Employer’s Regulation of Firearms in the Parking Lot

At least twice a year, a client will ask whether an employee can be terminated for having a firearm in their vehicle on company property.  We must start with the already heavily entrenched doctrine in Pennsylvania that there is no common law action against an employer for termination of an at-will employee.  All employees in Pennsylvania are at-will employees unless they have an employment contract.  An at-will employee may be terminated at any time with or without cause.  There is the limited circumstance when an employee may bring a cause of action against an employer when the termination violates a clear mandate of public policy.  An example would be terminating an employee for serving on jury duty.

This brings me to a case that was decided in April of this year by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in which an employee argued it was against public policy to terminate him for having a firearm in his vehicle on company property as it was public policy that Pennsylvania citizens have the right to bear arms pursuant to our state and federal Constitutions.  Stewart v. FedEx Express, 114 A.3d 424 (Pa Super. 2015)  The Superior Court stated that neither the Pennsylvania Constitution nor the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution bestows a right to carry a concealed firearm in a vehicle.  Furthermore, the Court stated that our legislature has yet to declare this matter an issue of public policy.  Therefore, the employee did not have a cause of action under which he could recover; he was an at-will employee and as such, he may be terminated with or without cause as there was no public policy exception.  On November 17, 2015, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied the appeal of this case.

If you have additional questions regarding employee issues, please contact Attorney Ken Potter at 570-743-2333 or 888-505-6115 or visit our website at www.rhplegal.com.