By Christopher A. Gray, Esq.
As of March 19, 2017, most Ohio employers became no longer able to restrict their employees from storing firearms in personal motor vehicles parked on employer premises. Under the new law, employees with concealed carry permits may keep firearms and ammunition in their personal vehicles provided employees meet two provisions. First, the concealed carry permit holder must either stay inside the vehicle with the firearm and/or ammunition, or if the employee leaves the vehicle, the firearm and/or ammunition must be locked inside the vehicle’s trunk, glove box, or other enclosed container in or on the vehicle. Second, the vehicle must be in a location where it is otherwise permitted (e.g., the law only protects gun owners while the vehicle is parked in an employer-controlled lot).
A broad reading of the statute implies that employers are shielded from lawsuits stemming from injuries arising from the storage of the firearms on their property. For example, if a firearm were to accidentally discharge and harm someone outside in the employer’s parking lot, the employer should not be liable for any damages resulting from the discharge. However, the new law does not protect employers from civil liability for any harm arising out of another’s actions involving a firearm transported or stored pursuant to the new law if the employer procures or solicits the other person’s “injurious actions.”
The law does not prevent an employer from restricting employees from bringing firearms into its buildings or onto other property it owns. However, employers should review their policies to determine if they conflict with the new law and need to be updated.