Compliance Attorney, HNI
We've gotten lots of questions about the provisions in Wisconsin's concealed carry law and what they mean for employers. The following 9 questions cover the basics of what all employers should know about the law when determining policies and procedures for your company.
1. When is the law effective?
After November 1, 2011, Wisconsin residents may apply to the Department of Justice for a permit to conceal carry weapons.
2. Are employers or business owners required to do anything?
Yes. Regardless of whether you allow employees or visitors to carry concealed weapons on your premises, you should have a policy of zero tolerance for violence in place. Existing policies should be reviewed and updated to reflect the changes in regards to concealed carry.
Existence of a well-thought-out policy is an effective way to manage risk and avoid unexpected liability. HNI’s Advisory Team is often asked to help resolve problems that would have been better solved or completely avoided had the employer or business owner had a policy in place. Proactively setting expectations with your employees and consistently applying those policies is a best practice.
3. What type of weapon can a concealed carry permit holder possess?
Weapons covered by the concealed carry law include handguns, electric weapons (tasers), knives (other than a switchblade), and billy clubs.
4. Can an employer prohibit employees from carrying concealed weapons while on company business?
Yes. An employer may prohibit employees from carrying concealed weapons in the course of the employee’s employment.
5. Can an employer prohibit employees from carrying concealed weapons in an employee’s personal vehicle?
No. Employers may not prohibit employees from carrying concealed weapons in their personal vehicles. This is true even if the employee uses his or her personal vehicle for company business and/or transports clients or coworkers in their personal vehicles. Employees are also permitted to store their weapons in their personal vehicles while parked in the employer’s parking area.
6. Can an organization prohibit independent contractors or owner operators from carrying concealed weapons while performing services for them?
No. An organization cannot prohibit independent contractors or owner operators from carrying concealed weapons. An organization cannot regulate the conduct of independent contractors or owner operators to the same extent as they can with employees.
An organization can, however, prohibit independent contractors and owner operators from carrying a concealed weapon while on the organization’s premises. In short, they can be regulated to the extent any other visitor to your premises can be regulated.
7. If an employer chooses to prohibit employees from carrying concealed weapons on their premises, is the employer required to display a poster?
No. The law does require employers to provide notice to their employees, but displaying a posting is not the only allowable method of doing so. Notice may be provided orally, in writing, or by posting signs throughout the building.
Employers may choose to publish this policy in a company handbook or to distribute a separate written policy. If notice is provided in this manner, employers should take care to keep their handbooks up to date and retain records documenting distribution of their policy. If order to hold employees accountable for complying with the policy, the employer may need to provide proof of notifying its employees.
8. Are employers that prohibit employees or visitors from carrying concealed weapons on their premises required to install metal detectors?
No. Employers are not required to install metal detectors simply because they prohibit employees or visitors from carrying concealed weapons on their premises.
All employers (regardless of whether they permit or prohibit concealed carry) are required to exercise due diligence in meeting their obligation to provide employees with a safe work environment. For example, if an employee informs management that another employee has a weapon at work, management must respond accordingly.
9. If an employer prohibits their employees from carrying concealed weapons on their premises, will they lose immunity?
Yes. Although all employers are still obligated to provide a safe workplace for their employees under OSHA requirements, an employer which allows concealed carry will be immune from liability arising from this specific decision.
Despite the application of immunity, employees that are injured in the course of employment will continue to be covered under worker’s compensation.