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Can my employer fire me for having a concealed weapon in my locked vehicle in Pennsylvania on company property .

Altoona, PA |

company says it will fire anyone who brings a weapon on company property even if it is locked in my private vehicle and kept out of sight.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. In most states, either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship "at will" - meaning for any (legal) reason or for no reason. I am not a PA attorney, but my understanding is that PA is an "at will" employment state.

    The principal exceptions to this general rule are:
    (i) where a written contract between the employer and employee limit the employer's discretion;
    (ii) where the employee is represented by a union, and protected by a collective bargaining agreement between the employer and the union;
    (iii) where the employee can demonstrate that the REAL reason for the termination (supposed proffered reason(s) notwithstanding) was actuallyimpermissible under applicable federal, state and/or local law (e.g. due to race, nationality, religion, age, etc.).

    While it is POSSIBLE that PA could have an unusual statute that prohibits an employer from disciplining or terminating an employee in the narrow circumstances you cite, such laws are rare, and I would say that's a long shot.

    Absent one of the preceding exceptions, you would not appear to have a good legal claim, either for reinstatement or for any measure of damages.

    It is possible that if you were an otherwise exemplary employee, and if you approached your HR department to explain that you simply were not aware of the policy, did not even consider that it could be an issue, along with any other extenuating circumstances, and that you assure them that it will never happen again, you MIGHT be reinstated. But of course no guarantees even here, as "zero tolerance" policies are often interpreted quite literally. And of course, if the company had already had one or more similar public incidents, and had recently required all employees to attend meetings where they made very clear that vehicular carry on company property would be grounds for immediate dismissal, you could pretty much write off even this as a possibility.

    THIS POST DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE, DOES NOT IMPLY ANY ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP, AND IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.


  2. Yes you can be terminated under these circumstances. Furthermore, it you are aware of the rule and knowingly violate the rule, you may also be barred from receiving unemployment compensation benefits.

    I recently handled an unemployment case with similar facts in which my client claimed she was afraid not to be armed in the neighborhood where the employer was located. We presented newspaper articles regarding the high crime rate on that street and testimony regarding multiple incidents on the employer's property where rather dangerous people just wandered into the facility. It didn't matter. She had knowingly violated the rule and this reason was not sufficient to obtain unemployment compensation. I would suggest that you take this rule seriously.

    Timothy D. Belt, Esquire Helping injured workers in Northeast Pennsylvania. belt-law@belt-law.com www.belt-law.com DISCLAIMER: This post is intended as general information applicable only to the state of Pennsylvania. The information given is based strictly upon the facts provided. This post is not intended to create an attorney client relationship, or to provide any specific guarantee of confidentiality.


  3. Yes. Their workplace. Their rules. 2nd Amendment protects people from the government trying to take their guns away but on private property, the person in charge of the property sets the rules. Additionally, I agree an unemployment case could be tough if you knowingly violated the rule.


  4. Generally, an employer may terminate any "at will" employee for any reason (as long as that reason is not unlawful, e.g., discriminatory).

    There are approximately 14 states with so-called "Bring your Gun to Work" laws. Those laws prohibit employers from carrying licensed firearms in the employees' vehicles while parked on employer premises. Pennsylvania is not one of those states.

    Assuming you are an "at will" employee, your employer may choose to terminate you for carrying a concealed weapon in your locked vehicle on company property.

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