AOL Finds Friends In Its No Guns At Work Policy

December 30, 2002 ( - Several organizations have filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting America Online (AOL) in its decision to fire three employees for possessing firearms in the company's parking lot, according to a Deseret News story.

AOL, which operates a call center in Ogden, Utah, fired three employees on September 14, 2000 after the three were seen transferring two pistols and two rifles among their vehicles in AOL’s leased parking lot. The men claimed they were preparing for target practice at a private shooting range after work.

Following their dismissal, the three sued for wrongful termination.

Right to Bear Arms?

In the suit, the plaintiffs argue AOL’s no guns at work policy is a violation of their constitutional right to bear arms, comparing this right to the right to have children or the right to get married.  

However, the recently filed brief say this notion weighs to the extreme. “One can readily see the extremism of plaintiffs’ position by substituting for gun rights the notion of marriage or reproductive rights. Although plaintiffs and their partners plainly have the right to marry and reproduce, their employer could certainly preclude them from making love on top of their desks at work. Certainly, the interests of others are also at stake in such places and at such times and justify employer regulation of such conduct,” according to the brief.

AOL contends the company’s no guns at work policy is not a violation or any public policy, considering the state has the same rule.

The Society of Human Resource Management, one of the organizations named in the brief, said the purpose of the brief is to support employer choice, not to endorse a particular position on the right to bear arms.

Other organizations named in the brief include:

  • Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce
  • Ogden and Weber Chamber of Commerce
  • Employers Council
  • Utah Hospitals and Health Systems Association
  • Utah Restaurant Association
  • Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah

The Utah Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case in the spring of 2003.