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Firing an Employee for Gun Possession in Car Parked on Company-Controlled Parking Lot

is just fine, holds the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Plona v. UPS. This is the latest phase in a case I noted two years ago (though that post came before it became clear that the parking lot was indeed company-controlled). Here's the relevant discussion:

Ohio has traditionally adhered to the employment-at-will doctrine, which permits an employer to terminate an at-will employment relationship “for any cause, at any time whatsoever, even if done in gross or reckless disregard of [an] employee’s rights.” But ... the Ohio Supreme Court [has] carved out an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine for situations where the employee’s discharge contravenes public policy. To maintain [such a] claim, a plaintiff must establish: (1) the existence of a clear public policy manifested in a state or federal constitution, statute or administrative regulation, or in the common law (the “clarity element”); (2) that a dismissal under circumstances similar to the plaintiff’s dismissal would jeopardize the public policy (the “jeopardy element”); (3) that the plaintiff’s dismissal was motivated by conduct related to the public policy (the “causation element”); and (4) that the employer lacked an overriding legitimate business justification for the dismissal (the “overriding justification element”). The clarity and jeopardy elements are questions of law to be decided by the court.

Here, Plona asserts that the “clear public policy” at issue is manifested in the Ohio Constitution, Article I, § 4, which states that “[t]he people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security ....” He reasons that UPS violated this policy by terminating him for possessing an unloaded firearm in a parking lot that he characterizes as quasi-public property by virtue of its use by UPS customers and its ownership by a party other than UPS.

Plona’s argument is without merit. Although the Ohio Constitution provides a general right to bear arms, the state certainly does not have a “clear public policy” of allowing employees to possess firearms on the premises of their private employers. To the contrary, the Ohio legislature has specifically provided that employers may limit their employees’ rights to bear arms:

Nothing in this section shall negate or restrict a rule, policy, or practice of a private employer that is not a private college, university, or other institution of higher education concerning or prohibiting the presence of firearms on the private employer’s premises or property, including motor vehicles owned by the private employer.

Plona does not dispute that the parking lot in question is owned by UPS’s wholly owned subsidiary BT-OH, or that the lease between UPS and BT-OH affords UPS full control over the parking lot. UPS was thus plainly within its rights, as codified in § 2923.126(C)(1), to prohibit its employees from possessing firearms in the parking area. Because Plona cannot show that UPS violated a clear public policy of the state of Ohio, his wrongful-termination claim fails as a matter of law.

By the way, to anticipate the likely "of course no court would ever hold this as to other rights, such as free speech" arguments: In most states, nongovernmental employers are allowed to fire employees based on their speech, even speech that's entirely outside employer property. (For a list of the states that take a contrary view, see this post chain; I had hoped to blog about more of the statutes than I noted there, but didn't have a chance to.) There's certainly no constitutional constraint on firing employees for their off-the-job speech -- the Bill of Rights generally applies only to government entities, not private employers -- and there's no federal statutory constraint on it (except as to a few types of speech, such as union advocacy).

The matter varies as to other constitutional rights:

  1. Free exercise of religion: Federal antidiscrimination statutes (and similar statutes in many states) generally does bar employers from firing employees based on the employees' religion, including the employees' religious practices, and even some on-the-job practices (though it depends on whether accommodating the practice would be unduly burdensome to the employer).

  2. Right to get pregnant, and right to abortion: A federal antidiscrimination statute (and similar statutes in many states) also generally bans discrimination based on pregnancy, which some courts have interpreted as covering discrimination based on abortion. See, e.g., Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 358 (8th Cir. 2008).

  3. Right to marry, or not to marry: Quite a few states' statutes also bar employers from firing employees based on employees' marital status.

  4. Right to sexual autonomy: Quite a few states' statutes bar employers from firing employees based on employees' sexual orientation, which would presumably cover firings based on at least certain kinds of exercises of the right to sexual autonomy. Some states also ban discrimination based on lawful off-premises recreational conduct, which might cover some firings for sexual activity.

  5. Other rights: I know of no laws that bar employers from firing employees for the exercise of a right to self-incrimination, or a right to refuse to allow the police to search the employee's property, and the like.

So courts generally have not barred private employers from firing people based on the exercise of their constitutional rights (or, to be precise, their rights to do things free of government restriction). Congress has, as to a few rights (free exercise of religion, free speech as to labor matters in many contexts, reproductive rights). Some but by no means all state legislatures have, as to a few more rights (right to marry, right to sexual autonomy, and, in fewer states, freedom of speech). And a few states have done this as to the right to bear arms, even in some states on company parking lots. But the only general pattern here is that these rules are almost always created by legislatures and not by courts (with a few exceptions for things such as jury service and whistleblowing to government agencies, and even that not always).

Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer to the Sixth Circuit decision.

BZ (mail):
One aspect of employee speech which has been litigated and administratively applied is on choice of language. The EEOC, for example, bans "English-on-the-job" rules which are not justified by business necessity. 29 C.F.R. § 1606.7; www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21834350/.

The problem is that the EEOC equates language and national origin, which courts, almost uniformly (a few exceptions) have rejected for many years. See, e.g., Garcia v. Spun-Steak, 998 F.2d 1480, 1489-90 (9th Cir. 1993), cert. den. 512 U.S. 1228 (1994)(EEOC Guidelines equating language and national origin were ultra vires); Vasquez v. McAllen Bag &Supply Co., 660 F.2d 686 (5th Cir. 1981)(upholding English-on-the-job rule for non-English-speaking truck drivers); Garcia v. Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center, 660 F.2d 1217, 1222 (7th Cir. 1981)(upholding hiring practices requiring English proficiency); Long v. First Union Corp., 894 F.Supp. 933, 941 (E.D. Virginia, 1995 (“there is nothing in Title VII which protects or provides that an employee has a right to speak his or her native tongue while on the job.”), affirmed, 86 F.3d 1151 (4th Cir. 1996).

I could go on, but you get the idea. And I'm leaving out the cases dealing with government employees and government contractors, who are governed by the same laws, but against whom the federal government's policy is similar to the EEOC's (i.e., equating language and national origin without any statutory basis.)

So, to summarize this question in terms of the post: employers have the right to fire employees for on-the-job speech, but if they do, the EEOC will sue them and exact at least a settlement (though one which is not supported by anything other than the agency's own regulations). But employers who persevere in court prevail.
3.6.2009 12:12pm
DrObviousSo:

To maintain [such a] claim, a plaintiff must establish: (1) the existence of a clear public policy manifested in a state or federal constitution, statute or administrative regulation, or in the common law (the “clarity element”);
(Bold mine)
Hmm. It seems from the blurb that the court is finding that the legislature doesn't provide the public policy, so it doesn't exist, without ruling if the state constitution provides that public policy.

The ohio constitution seems to be pretty clear on why RKBA is in there. I don't know if that would translate into a 'public policy' (as I assume that there might be some legal jargon in there that I don't know)
The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.


Was this also the case from before where commentators argued that since he can't store a firearm at work, he is denied that right too and from work?
3.6.2009 12:29pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Entirely proper result. I can do what I want on my property, you can control what I can and cannot do on your property, even if I depend on you for my job.
3.6.2009 12:54pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Entirely proper result. I can do what I want on my property, you can control what I can and cannot do on your property, even if I depend on you for my job.
Like organizing a union?
3.6.2009 1:19pm
cbyler (mail):
I don't see any problem with this result. Does anyone really want to advocate the idea that RKBA includes the right to bear arms *onto someone else's private property without the property owner's approval*? Your right to carry your gun ends where my land begins (unless I give permission).
3.6.2009 1:26pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
Generally I'd agree four-square with PatHMV on this. Except, it seems to me that right-to-bear-arms provisions have to do with more than just an individual's right of self-defense. An armed citizenry stands as a bulwark against predation. An employer who prevents permit-holding citizens from carrying arms, not just on the job but also driving to and from work and possibly shopping, etc, along the way, undermines the purpose of the right in the broader community.
3.6.2009 1:32pm
pintler:
Has anyone ever encountered a large corporation or agency which actually imposed reasonable restrictions, i.e. saying no to J. Random Bubba with the anger management problem who just wants his gun handy, but yes to, say, the policeman's wife who has been receiving credible death threats to whack her and the kids after she picks them up from day care on the way home?

As a society, we talk about 'reasonable gun control' a lot, but seem to do a poor job of implementing it - we either end up with an almost complete ban or almost completely permissiveness.
3.6.2009 1:37pm
microtherion (mail):

2. Right to get pregnant


So an employer is prohibited from firing an employee who decided to get pregnant on the employer's parking lot?
3.6.2009 1:42pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

An employer who prevents permit-holding citizens from carrying arms, not just on the job but also driving to and from work and possibly shopping, etc, along the way, undermines the purpose of the right in the broader community.

And if the employer doesn't have parking lots, such as a in a downtown area? Your assertion implies that employers must provide some sort of secure storage for firearms on their property.
3.6.2009 1:42pm
Bama 1L:
Except, it seems to me that right-to-bear-arms provisions have to do with more than just an individual's right of self-defense.

The reason for the individual right to keep and bear arms has not been developed by the courts.
3.6.2009 1:48pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Allan, if the public in general agrees with you, then it would be entirely appropriate to pass a law prohibiting employers from banning gun possession on their premises in these circumstances (as, the post notes, has been done for a variety of other religious and reproductive freedoms). But it is not for a judge to impose.
3.6.2009 2:02pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I don't doubt that the view expressed by some in this thread-- that if private property owners routinely forbid possession of firearms, they can defeat the purposes of the Second Amendment-- is true.

The problem is the state action doctrine-- there's no state action when an employer does this.

And I would suggest (I have to, given I wrote a whole law review article about this 14 years ago!) that this is not just a problem with gun rights-- e.g., if private property owners are aggressive enough about it and act in concert, they can make free speech rights pretty thin too (think about employers of migrant farmworkers who fire the employees who live in their camps for UFW organizing).

The question is, what are we going to do about it? Loosening the state action doctrine (I wouldn't abandon it, as it serves good purposes too) hasn't exactly gained any traction. Maybe the gun rights cause will finally make this a possibility (the civil rights cause in the 1940's 1950's gave rise to some loosening of the doctrine, e.g., Shelley v. Kramer, Terry v. Adams).
3.6.2009 2:08pm
David Schwartz (mail):
AW: Rights are not yokes. If individuals wish to work against the goals those rights are aimed at, even using all their powers, that is also their right. Why not prohibit arguing against the right to free speech?
3.6.2009 2:20pm
Sagar:
sucks for 2nd amendment supporters, but this seems to be the right ruling.

if people are concerned about self defence, they can try to convince their employers or let state govt pass a law allowing the possession in a locked vehicle on employer parking lot (some states are doing this)
3.6.2009 2:57pm
whit:
so, could an employer fire an employee for having political signs or books he disapproves of, within his car?

that, to me, would seem consistent.
3.6.2009 3:24pm
pintler:

so, could an employer fire an employee for having political signs or books he disapproves of, within his car?

that, to me, would seem consistent.


If my employer forbids possession of Dr. Seuss books on company property, it's not going to hurt me that much to forgo reading 'The Cat in the Hat' at lunch.

If my employer forbids possession of weapons, and my whacko ex husband has just posted bail after assaulting me...
3.6.2009 3:50pm
MartyA:
Employer control of employee parking lots is essential. The primary reason is not guns but booze. I don't want workers going to the lot for a quick drink (or drug use) so I make possession on company property a firing offense. Why not the same with a gun?
And, yes, vigorous control of a parking area can force union organizers off the property. Of course, the no soliciting rule keeps the Girl Scouts (cookies) away.
3.6.2009 3:56pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
pintler... so get a job at another company, or talk to your superiors about obtaining an exception, or a safer parking spot. You're not one of those libertarians who don't think employers should have rights, are you?

Or, take the risk, keep the gun in the car under the seat and keep the company from finding out about it.
3.6.2009 4:16pm
pintler:

Employer control of employee parking lots is essential. The primary reason is not guns but booze. I don't want workers going to the lot for a quick drink (or drug use) so I make possession on company property a firing offense. Why not the same with a gun?


Hypothetically speaking, you're the CEO of a company. Your secretary - nice lady, been a good employee for several years - asks to speak with you. She says "I have a little problem. We've been getting threats. We don't know if it is someone my LEO husband arrested, or someone I did, when I was on the force before the kids came. And they're horrible, graphic, threats, with the letters cut out of magazines, pictures of our kid's day care, everything. The cops are trying everything - DNA, the works - but no luck so far. I'd like to bring a gun to work, to protect myself here, and my kids when I pick them up, and in case someone is waiting when I get home".

What do you do?

If she worked at a bigger company (GM, Xerox, Boeing), and wasn't the CEO's secretary, what policy should the company have? Are there any set of facts where we might, as a society, say 'this lady gets to carry her gun, whether her employer/the mall owner/etc likes it or not'?
3.6.2009 4:31pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

my kids when I pick them up

That part caught my eye. How is said secretary going to protect her kids when they're at school or day care? Is she going to demand daycare at the company? Or, since most rights are also available to minors (except voting), are we going to see lawsuits seeking to overturn age restrictions?
3.6.2009 4:37pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):
on firearms.
3.6.2009 4:38pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Pintler... I have no objection to you lobbying the legislature, asking them to pass a law requiring employers to allow you to carry a gun in your car in their parking lot. I'm not a libertarian, of course, so I can support such laws.

All I object to is asking a judge to do so. The Constitution only protects our rights from being taken away by the government. If we have some rights or privileges which we want private parties to respect, we must pass specific laws to do so.

Introduce a reasonable bill for such in any legislature, and I'll be happy to support it. But it would be completely contrary to our constitutional structure for a judge to require your private employer to allow you to carry a gun on his property in the absence of some law passed by Congress or your state legislature.
3.6.2009 5:30pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
Thanks to those who commented on my post of about 4 hours ago, which was:

Generally I'd agree four-square with PatHMV on this. Except, it seems to me that right-to-bear-arms provisions have to do with more than just an individual's right of self-defense. An armed citizenry stands as a bulwark against predation. An employer who prevents permit-holding citizens from carrying arms, not just on the job but also driving to and from work and possibly shopping, etc, along the way, undermines the purpose of the right in the broader community.


The reason for the individual right to keep and bear arms has not been developed by the courts.

Maybe not, and I'm no walking compendium of judicial opinions. But if right-to-arms provisions are to be taken seriously, then perhaps jurisprudence needs to tackle the question of purpose in order to implement them properly.

If individuals wish to work against the goals those rights are aimed at, even using all their powers, that is also their right. Why not prohibit arguing against the right to free speech?

People surely have a right to argue for repeal of constitutional provisions, but to what extent do they have a right to frustrate the purposes and impede implementation of such existing provisions? Example: I should think I can properly prevent employees from waving signs I don't like on my property (although I won't be surprised if someone can cite chapter and verse of decisions to the contrary). But can I prevent them from keeping such signs locked in their car trunks while parked in the employee parking lot? If I can do that, then I can impose on their ability to express themselves, say, at a rally or political convention that they were hoping to drive to after work, and thereby (slightly) undermine one of the well-accepted purposes of the 1st Amendment. What I'm suggesting, by analogy, is that the public's defense against predation is weakened if employers can effectively stop permit-holding employees from possessing their weapons not merely on the job, but on the way to and from work as well. It's not just those employees who suffer, it is rationale for right-to-arms provisions that is undermined.

I don't want workers going to the lot for a quick drink (or drug use) so I make possession on company property a firing offense. Why not the same with a gun?

Because, I suggest, in the second case an important purpose of right-to-arms provisions is undermined, while in the first case it is not.

...it is not for a judge to impose.

Not so sure about that. Aren't judges supposed to interpret and enforce constitutions? But another avenue certainly is for legislatures to pass laws intended to implement constitutional rights. I regard shall-issue carry permit laws as being in that category.

I strongly support property rights, but they are not absolutely unlimited. I'm not totally committed to the position I seem to be defending here, but I think it's worth discussing. Thanks again for the responses.
3.6.2009 5:34pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

If I can do that, then I can impose on their ability to express themselves, say, at a rally or political convention that they were hoping to drive to after work, and thereby (slightly) undermine one of the well-accepted purposes of the 1st Amendment.

Again, following that logic, your employer would also need to provide parking. What if you chose to walk to work when there is no parking? Does that mean your employer needs to provide a secure locker for you to store guns and signs?

If you feel as though your employer does not pay you enough, you are free to either plead for a raise or work somewhere else. You made a choice to work at a specific employer, nobody forced you to.
3.6.2009 5:49pm
mariner:
I no longer marvel at people's ability to believe this is OK, but that the same company can be legally prohibited from having policies of "no niggers" or "no queers".

After all, it's private property and companies have the right to control what/who is on it, right?
3.6.2009 6:20pm
Allan Walstad (mail):

Again, following that logic, your employer would also need to provide parking.

Fair point, sorry I missed that one before. Still, I thought that when there are competing interests, jurisprudence at some level is about balancing. There's a difference between requiring employers to go out of their way to provide an opportunity for employees to store guns, versus allowing employees who drive to work to lock their weapons up in their own cars, IF there is a company parking lot. By analogy, can an employer properly fire someone for keeping a political sign locked up out of sight in their car trunk? If not, does that mean employers have to provide parking lots or else provide facilities for storage of political signs? Granted, the analogy is weak because in the case of self-defense weapons we are talking about leaving the public with less defense against violent criminals.

The Constitution only protects our rights from being taken away by the government.

That point also has considerable force with me. Doubtless it would be preferable for the legislature to work out the details in law to implement constitutional rights. Nevertheless, an employer who refuses to allow legally permitted individuals to lock up their guns in the company parking lot is also preventing them from possessing their weapons on the way to and from work and thereby diminishing the capacity for general public defense against armed predation, which I take to be a clear purpose of right-to-arms constitutional provisions.

But ok, you folks have argued me back pretty close to the fence on this one.
3.6.2009 6:38pm
pintler:
PatHMV: Interesting. I confess I was thinking more about the results than the method.

The WA state constitution states "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired...". IIUC, an employer cannot, without a compelling reason, prohibit the wearing of yarmulkes, or Sikh turbans, or fire males based on their gender or Baptists based on their religion (maybe I'm wrong, IANAL). But if an employer did fire Baptists or males or forbid Sikhs from wearing their turbans, wouldn't the courts be the right place to seek redress?

If so, and someone can make a plausible case that forbidding them from carrying nunchucks :-) will create a grave threat to their very life, is asking the courts to enforce that right the wrong thing to do? We, as a society, seem to have to decided you shouldn't have to choose between your religion or sexual orientation and your job - why should you have to choose between your life and your job?
3.6.2009 6:50pm
pintler:

my kids when I pick them up

That part caught my eye. How is said secretary going to protect her kids when they're at school or day care? Is she going to demand daycare at the company? Or, since most rights are also available to minors (except voting), are we going to see lawsuits seeking to overturn age restrictions?


She can't. Maybe she'll pick a daycare run by retired Gunny Smith and his wife and their 4 german shepherds. Maybe she'll have a word with the school resource officer. We're not going to put her and her family in a Secret Service bubble, alas - but that doesn't mean we can't do the cheap easy things to give her better odds. Not spending money to protect someone is one thing - forbidding them from protecting themselves is another.
3.6.2009 7:04pm
Cornellian (mail):
I no longer marvel at people's ability to believe this is OK, but that the same company can be legally prohibited from having policies of "no niggers" or "no queers".

After all, it's private property and companies have the right to control what/who is on it, right?


You really don't see any moral distinction between refusing to hire people because they are black and refusing to allow guns on your property?
3.6.2009 9:54pm
ChrisTS (mail):
What are the real options, here? Are they (a) companies are not allowed to make such rules or (b) if companies make such rules they can never make reasonable exceptions?

I've never heard of a company that did not treat its rules presumptively when faced with an exceptional case - unless there was some motivation to use the rule to penalize someone. No company is compelled to treat its own rules as absolute rules.

P.S. At the risk of being a language-nag, "no objection to you your lobbying."
3.6.2009 10:03pm
Zoe E Brain (mail) (www):
In Ohio, it's perfectly legal to put up a sign saying "no queers". Except in Cincinnati and Toledo.

The list of places which have laws that stop "no queers" signs, and year of enactment, up to 2007 is:

2007 State of Colorado
State of Iowa
Lake Worth, FL
Milwaukee, WI
Palm Beach County, FL
State of Oregon
Saugatuck, MI
State of Vermont
West Palm Beach, FL
2006 Bloomington, IN
Cincinnati, OH
Easton, PA
Ferndale, MI
Hillsboro, OR
Johnson County, IA
King County, WA
Lansdowne, PA
Lansing, MI
State of New Jersey
Swarthmore, PA
State of Washington
West Chester, PA
2005 Gulfport, FL
State of Illinois
Indianapolis, IN
Lincoln City, OR
State of Maine
Northampton, MA
Washington, DC
2004 Albany, NY
Austin, TX
Beaverton, OR
Bend, OR
Burien, WA
Oakland, CA
Miami Beach, FL
Tompkins County, NY
2003 State of California
State of New Mexico
Carbondale, IL
Covington, KY
El Paso, TX
Ithaca, NY
Key West, FL
Lake Oswego, OR
Monroe Co., FL
Oakland, CA
Peoria, IL
San Diego, CA
Scranton, PA
Springfield, IL
University City, MO
2002 Allentown, PA
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Buffalo, NY
Chicago, IL
Cook County, IL
Dallas, TX
Decatur, IL
East Lansing, MI
Erie County, PA
New Hope, PA
New York City, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Salem, OR
Tacoma, WA
2001 Denver, CO
Huntington Woods, MI
Multnomah Co., OR
State of Rhode Island
Rochester, NY
Suffolk County, NY
2000 Atlanta, GA
Boulder, CO
DeKalb, IL
Madison, WI
Portland, OR
1999 Ann Arbor, MI
Jefferson County, KY
Lexington-Fayette Co., KY
Louisville, KY
Tucson, AZ
1998 Benton County, OR
Santa Cruz County, CA
New Orleans, LA
Toledo, OH
West Hollywood, CA
York, PA
1997 Cambridge, MA
Evanston, IL
Olympia, WA
Pittsburgh, PA
Ypsilanti, MI
1996 Iowa City, IA
1994 Grand Rapids, MI
San Francisco, CA
1993 State of Minnesota
1992 Santa Cruz, CA
1990 St. Paul, MN
1986 Seattle, WA
1983 Harrisburg, PA
1979 Los Angeles, CA.
Urbana, IL
1977 Champaign, IL
1975 Minneapolis, MN

In all but 17 states, it's quite legal to fire someone for being gay. In all but 13, it's quite legal to fire someone for being transsexual.
3.7.2009 3:20am
pintler:

What are the real options, here? Are they (a) companies are not allowed to make such rules or (b) if companies make such rules they can never make reasonable exceptions?

I've never heard of a company that did not treat its rules presumptively when faced with an exceptional case - unless there was some motivation to use the rule to penalize someone. No company is compelled to treat its own rules as absolute rules.


I'm guessing here, but I'd think you might have a reasonable chance of negotiating with a small company, but I find it hard to believe that an average employee could ever successfully negotiate with a Boeing or GM, no matter how compelling the case. There are too many layers of people, all of which would view the safe CYA position to be 'no'. Even if your employer agreed, you have other problems, e.g. if you need to pick up a package at the post office, etc.

Maybe we need a class of permits, issued on a discretionary basis, but reasonably (i.e, not like NYC or Chicago or LA or SF). With that class or permit, you would operate under essentially the same restrictions as a police officer. It would be analogous, perhaps to handicapped parking permits - special accommodation for those with special circumstances.

Post Heller, we need to decide what reasonable is. If life dumps on you and you end up in a wheelchair, we mandate reasonable accommodation. If you're blind, 'No Pets' rules don't apply to your seeing eye dog. If you're unlucky enough that your life is in danger, we need to make reasonable accommodations for that, too. Some of those will pose hard questions, e.g. the battered wife who has some anger management problems herself, but I don't think a blanket 'no' is reasonable any more.
3.7.2009 10:00am
David Schwartz (mail):
People surely have a right to argue for repeal of constitutional provisions, but to what extent do they have a right to frustrate the purposes and impede implementation of such existing provisions? Example: I should think I can properly prevent employees from waving signs I don't like on my property (although I won't be surprised if someone can cite chapter and verse of decisions to the contrary). But can I prevent them from keeping such signs locked in their car trunks while parked in the employee parking lot? If I can do that, then I can impose on their ability to express themselves, say, at a rally or political convention that they were hoping to drive to after work, and thereby (slightly) undermine one of the well-accepted purposes of the 1st Amendment. What I'm suggesting, by analogy, is that the public's defense against predation is weakened if employers can effectively stop permit-holding employees from possessing their weapons not merely on the job, but on the way to and from work as well. It's not just those employees who suffer, it is rationale for right-to-arms provisions that is undermined.
Yes, exactly. If people want to do everything in their power to frustrate the first amendment, that is their right. Freedoms are not yokes. I am 100% absolutely consistent about this.

If you wish to do everything in your power to prevent people from speaking out against the government, bearing arms, or whatever, that is your right. (Assuming you're not an employee of the government who has taken an oath the contrary, of course.)

If a company wants to work to get the first amendment repealed, that is their right. I think they'd have a hard time finding employees and would likely have to charge a higher salary or accept less competent employees, and I know I wouldn't count myself among their customers, but they can certainly do that if they want.

Freedom of speech, rights to own property, are all meaningless if people can't use them to act against what the majority thinks are our public policy goals.
3.7.2009 3:35pm
J.T. Wenting (mail):
The company's first ammendment rights and the employee's second ammendment rights are at odds here.
Either you give the company's officers the right under the first ammendment to determine what goes on on their premises, OR you dictate what they can do.
If you do the latter, you automatically have that apply also to private residences and thus curb peoples' first ammendment rights inside their own homes.
Effectively you'll have decided that free speech exists only on lands owned by the government, and we all know how much government agencies (especially universities...) respect those rights.

I believe there was a case in Florida however where it was decided that while the parking lot was company property, the car is an extension of the employee's home and therefore the company has no right to decide what the employee stores in it even if the car is located on company property.
Under that the employee could not be fired for taking his gun with him as long as it is not removed from the car while the car is located in the company carpark.
3.8.2009 4:04pm

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If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.