It has been some time since I last wrote about Florida’s Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008. Under the Act, an employer may prohibit any customer, employee or independent contractor working for the employer who has a valid Florida concealed carry permit from possessing any legally owned firearm which is locked inside a private motor vehicle in the parking lot when the customer, employee or independent contractor is lawfully in such area.
The law protects only those employees who have a valid Florida concealed weapons permit. Those without a permit are not covered under the law. The law also prevents the employer from inquiring whether an employee possesses a firearm and a search of the vehicle may only be conducted in the presence of a law enforcement officer. The employer may not condition employment on whether the employee holds a concealed weapons permit or on the employee agreeing not to keep a firearm in their vehicle. The employer may not terminate or discriminate against an employee for exercising his or her right to keep and bear arms.
The law also shields the employer for the acts of its employee related to the use of the gun when the employer is complying with the law. The law permits an aggrieved person to sue and provides for both an award of damages and attorneys’ fees. Certain employers, such schools, correctional institutions, nuclear power plants and aerospace plants are excluded.
The law withstood a constitutional challenge by the Florida Retail Federation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The National Rifle Association filed an amicus brief in support of the law. A judge in another lawsuit found that the law only protected an employee with a valid concealed weapons permit in keeping a gun in his or her vehicle. Thus, an apartment management company could fire an on-site property manager who carried his shotgun across the apartment complex in responding to a tenant who had been shot and injured. The judge also held that the law did not alter Florida’s doctrine of employment at will.
In 2013 a student at the University of North Florida filed a lawsuit challenging the University’s policy prohibiting students with valid concealed carry permits from keeping a firearm in their car in the schools parking lots. Florida law provides that firearms may not be possessed on school property except when securely encased in a vehicle. The appellate court ruled that the University’s policy contravened the law. Of course, any law attempting to regulate firearms is limited by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
I personally represent hard working business owners facing a myriad of legal challenges, including those brought under federal and Florida employment laws. Referrals are always appreciated.