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Know the Law: Weapons in the Workplace

Written by: Laura McKelligott Kahl

Published in the Union Leader (8/17/2019)

Q: With the recent reports of workplace violence and shootings in the news, as an employer, are there things that I can do to try to keep guns and violence out of my workplace?

A: Workplace shootings are frightening and seem all too common. However, as a New Hampshire employer, there are a few things that you can do to try to keep violent behavior, guns and other weapons out of your workplace.

In New Hampshire, any person who legally may possess a firearm may carry one, either openly or concealed, without a license or permit. However, this does not mean that New Hampshire employers have to allow people to bring guns and other weapons into the workplace.

New Hampshire private sector employers have control over their property. They can use this control to prohibit employees, customers and other visitors from bringing weapons into the office or work area, as well as from keeping weapons in cars that are parked in the employer’s parking lot. They can also use this control to regulate the behavior of employees while they are at work, and enforce rules against violence in the workplace.

Employers who decide to prohibit guns and violent behavior in the workplace should establish clear written policies regarding these prohibitions and the consequences for violating them, and should distribute the policies to all employees. This ensures that employees are informed of the employer’s prohibitions against violent behavior at work and bringing weapons to the workplace. It also ensures that employees know the process to follow if they learn or suspect that another person is acting in a violent manner, or has brought a weapon into the workplace.

Policies prohibiting violence in the workplace should define the employer’s expectations regarding employee behavior at work. Similarly, policies prohibiting weapons at work should specify which weapons are prohibited and the particular places where employees may or may not bring guns or other weapons.

For example, if the employer wishes to prohibit weapons other than guns, the policy should define the other weapons that are prohibited.

Additionally, the policy should state whether weapons are prohibited only in the building where employees work or also in cars parked in the employer’s parking area.

Employers who wish to implement such policies should consider hiring an experienced employment law attorney to assist in their preparation.

Laura Kahl can be reached at [email protected].

Know the Law is a bi-weekly column sponsored by McLane Middleton, Professional Association. We invite your questions of business law. Questions and ideas for future columns should be addressed to: McLane Middleton, 900 Elm St., Manchester, NH 03101 or emailed to [email protected]. Know the Law provides general legal information, not legal advice. We recommend that you consult a lawyer for guidance specific to your particular situation.

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