Planning to fire somebody this week? Want to get killed doing it?
Calm down. We’re being intentionally alarmist. But, as the Wall Street Journal points out, a number of employers are concerned about the fact that 22 states have passed laws allowing employees to keep guns in their vehicles in company parking lots.
Backed by lobbying from the National Rifle Association and allied organizations, these laws essentially forbid employers from forbidding guns in the parking lot. The NRA logic is that workers may need to defend themselves with lethal force on their way to the job, and when they get there they need a place to stow their firearm before entering the office or plant.
Employers have countered that their right to control their premises, including the parking lot, trumps the right of their employees to bear arms, at least at work.
And as the WSJ notes, some employers believe the availability of a weapon near to hand — just out there in the employee’s car or truck — makes it more likely that an unstable employee will resort to gun violence if something sets him or her off.
That something could well be the announcement that the employee is being terminated, an emotive moment if there ever was one. One company with multi-state operations was quoted as saying that when managers have to engage in such a confrontation with a problematic employee, they’re instructed to consider whether that facility’s state laws allow guns in the parking lot. In such place, extra security may be arranged for the meeting.
So if you’re operating in a state where it’s legal for your people to keep weapons in their vehicles, what can you do to minimize the chances of a disciplinary meeting, or other uncomfortable confrontation, going disastrously wrong?
You might consider:
- Creating or strengthening workplace violence policies/practices that include training to help managers spot signs that an individual may become violent.
- Arranging extra protection, in the form of Security or a manager with military or police experience, at disciplinary meetings with employees.
- Timing such meetings to deny the employee an opportunity to get a gun from a vehicle beforehand. In other words, don’t tell the person at 9 a.m. that you want him to come see you at noon. An unstable person might suspect what the meeting is about and arm himself.
Unfortunately, gun violence is part of American society, and employers don’t operate in a vacuum. But if you take wise steps ahead of time, you stand a better chance of warding off the threat that ready employee access to a firearm might pose.
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