Kentucky Employees May Not Be Fired for Lawfully Storing Guns in Their Cars

That’s what Kentucky statutes provide, and today the Kentucky Supreme Court applied this rule in Mitchell v. University of Kentucky (Ky. Apr. 26, 2012). There was something of a complication because the defendant was a university, and state law provides universities with generally broad authority to restrict weapons on their property. But the court concluded that the statutory provisions allowing employees to lawfully store guns in their cars is an exception from that broad university power. Michael Mitchell’s wrongful firing lawsuit against the university can therefore go forward.

The relevant Kentucky statutory provisions, by the way, are these:

§ 527.020(4) … No person or organization, public or private, shall prohibit a person licensed to carry a concealed deadly weapon from possessing a firearm, ammunition, or both, or other deadly weapon in his or her vehicle in compliance with the provisions of KRS 237.110 and 237.115. Any attempt by a person or organization, public or private, to violate the provisions of this subsection may be the subject of an action for appropriate relief or for damages in a Circuit Court or District Court of competent jurisdiction….

§ 527.020(8) … No person or organization, public or private, shall prohibit a person from keeping a loaded or unloaded firearm or ammunition, or both, or other deadly weapon in a vehicle in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. Any attempt by a person or organization, public or private, to violate the provisions of this subsection may be the subject of an action for appropriate relief or for damages in a Circuit Court or District Court of competent jurisdiction….

§ 237.115(1) Except as provided in KRS 527.020, nothing contained in KRS 237.110 [the general concealed carry licensing provision -EV] shall be construed to limit, restrict, or prohibit in any manner the right of a college, university, or any postsecondary education facility, including technical schools and community colleges, to control the possession of deadly weapons on any property owned or controlled by them or the right of a unit of state, city, county, urban-county, or charter county government to prohibit the carrying of concealed deadly weapons by licensees in that portion of a building actually owned, leased, or occupied by that unit of government.

The court concluded that the “[e]xcept as provided in KRS 527.020″ did limit the university’s to fire employees for possessing guns in their cars; for more on this, please see the opinion.

UPDATE: My colleague Prof. Stephen Bainbridge speaks out against the Kentucky statute, and nearly all other laws that restrict employees’ and employers’ ability to sever their relationships at will.