PUBLICATIONS

Legal Alert: Illinois Employers Should Beware of the Impact of the Firearm Concealed Carry Act

Date   Dec 12, 2013

Executive Summary:  Illinois employers beware, if you want to prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms on your property, you must post a sign stating that the carrying of firearms is prohibited, according to a law that became effective earlier this year.

 

Executive Summary:  Illinois employers beware, if you want to prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms on your property, you must post a sign stating that the carrying of firearms is prohibited, according to a law that became effective earlier this year. The signage must contain specific language, and even then, employers should know it has some limitations.

The Illinois' Firearm Concealed Carry Act (FCCA) became effective July 9, 2013, overturning the ban on concealed weapons and creating new potential liabilities and risks for Illinois employers.  As time passes, there is no doubt that many individuals, including employees, will obtain such licenses.

While the law prohibits carrying concealed weapons in specific places (such as schools, child-care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.), generally all owners of private property, including private employers, have the right to prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms on the property under the owner's control.  Unless the property is a private residence, to prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms, private employers must post a sign stating that the carrying of firearms is prohibited.

Signage Rules

The sign must be conspicuously posted at the entrance of the building, premises or real property, use a uniform design established by the Department of State Police, and be 4 inches by 6 inches in size.  The Department's proposed rules state that the sign template will be made available on the Department's website.  Employers that do not own or operate prohibited areas and desire to keep firearms off their premises should stay current with the Illinois State Police's forthcoming regulations discussing the "uniform design" to ensure that they post the official signs banning concealed weapons on their properties.

Limitations

While in some states, posting the required notice is sufficient to prohibit individuals from carrying weapons onto all areas owned by the employer, including the parking lot, the FCCA prohibits an employer from banning firearms in private vehicles brought into their parking lots, despite a sign prohibiting the same.  The law provides that, even on property with a properly posted sign, a licensee "shall be permitted to carry a concealed firearm on or about his or her person within a vehicle into the parking area and may store a firearm or ammunition concealed in a case within a locked vehicle or locked container out of plain view within the vehicle in the parking area."  The licensee is supposed to ensure that the concealed firearm is unloaded prior to exiting the vehicle.  A firearm may also be carried near a vehicle for the purpose of storing or retrieving the firearm from the vehicle's trunk.

Employers' Bottom Line:  While there may be unusual situations where having a firearm on work premises could avoid a catastrophic event, generally prohibiting employees from possessing firearms in the workplace is the best alternative for private employers from a risk management/employee safety perspective.  Concealed firearms in the workplace also present several liability concerns for employers.  The Illinois FCCA does not limit the liability of property owners who allow concealed-carry firearms on their properties.  Thus, employers who allow employees to bring firearms onto their premises risk negligence claims, workers' compensation claims, and other civil actions from victims of workplace violence.

This Alert was written by Karen E. Milner, kmilner@lowenbaumlaw.com, an attorney with the Lowenbaum Partnership, L.L.C., a FordHarrison affiliate law firm.  If you have any questions regarding this Alert, please contact the author or the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.