10th Circuit Rules OK Employees Can Have Guns in Vehicles at Work

March 3, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court decision that an Oklahoma state law that prohibits employers from forbidding weapons at the workplace violated a clause of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

In its opinion, the appellate court said, “OSHA has recognized workplace violence as a serious safety and health issue. To that end, OSHA has issued voluntary guidelines and recommendations for employers seeking to reduce the risk of workplace violence in at-risk industries. OSHA has not, however, promulgated any mandatory standards regarding workplace violence.”

In March 2004, a measure prohibiting Oklahoma employers from forbidding weapons at the workplace was signed into law. That December, ConocoPhilips and the Williams Cos. – both of which bar firearms from their properties –   filed suit to block the law, claiming that it violated employers’ property rights and due process rights, is unconstitutionally vague, and is inconsistent with federal laws regulating firearms.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma found that the state law violated OSHA’s “general duty” clause which requires employers to “furnish each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” (See OK Gun Policy Law Violates OSHA’s ‘General Duty’ Clause ) The District Court permanently enjoined enactment of the state law.

The opinion in Ramsey Winch Inc. v. Henry is here .