August 20, 2014

Gunshine State

Florida Staff | 1/1/2006
Florida businesses are butting heads with the National Rifle Association over a proposed change to the state's gun law. Most Florida employers have zero-tolerance workplace violence policies that extend to parking areas. Generally, those policies say employees can be fired for having any kind of weapons on the premises.

But a bill sponsored by Sen. Durell Peaden, R-Crestview, and supported by the NRA, would protect employees who want to keep weapons in their cars when parked at work. The proposed law says as long as the weapon is locked in the car, an employee cannot be fired for it.

Theresa Gallion, founding and managing partner in the Tampa office of Fisher & Phillips, who has practiced labor and employment law for 25 years, says the right to bear arms doesn't extend to the workplace. "Most employers will understandably be concerned that it will be easy for a disgruntled employee or visitor to go to his or her car, retrieve the gun and harm co-workers or third parties," Gallion says.

The NRA, though, is tough to beat in the Florida Legislature. Its Florida lobbyist, Marion P. Hammer, is past president of the 4.3-million-member organization. Earlier this year, she helped push through a bill, also sponsored by Peaden, that expands Florida's "castle doctrine" to give people the right to shoot attackers without first trying to retreat.

Also in 2005, the NRA succeeded in changing a law that gave proceeds from Florida's "Animal Friends" license plate to the Humane Society, which Hammer calls "one of the most anti-hunting, anti-sportsmen groups in the country." Amendments in a highway-safety package that passed on the last day of the session eliminated the Humane Society as a recipient of the funds.

Tags: Politics & Law, Government/Politics & Law

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