Weyco Wins Appeal of Gun Policy Lawsuit

February 16, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court's ruling for Weyerhaeuser Company (Weyco), who fired employees after learning they had firearms in the company's parking lot.

The District Court had granted summary judgment for Weyco saying, “…the regulation of firearm possession contained in the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act passes constitutional muster.”

The employees had filed the lawsuit against Weyco claiming that their termination violated Oklahoma constitutional and statutory authority establishing their right to carry firearms, that the search violated their Fourth Amendment rights, and claiming state law causes of action for false imprisonment, intentional and tortious interference with business relations, invasion of privacy and negligence.

Weyco had conducted a search of its mill and the parking lot when it suspected violations of its drug policy.  Several Weyco employees and employees of a company contracted by Weyco were terminated when the search found guns in their vehicles, according to the court opinion.

On appeal, the employees claimed that the Oklahoma law that allowed for Weyco’s gun policy was unconstitutional, and that a subsequent amendment to that law retroactively applies to them and protects their right to have firearms in their vehicles.  The amendment the employees refer to was passed after the Weyco incident and prohibits company policies that prohibit anyone except a convicted felon from storing firearms in their locked vehicles on company property.  Businesses are challenging the amendment in federal court (See  Sooner State Firms Battle Gun Law ).

In affirming the lower court’s decision, the court quoted the section of the state’s Self-Defense Act that said, “Nothing contained in any provision of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act . . . shall be construed to limit, restrict or prohibit in any manner the existing rights of any person, property owner, tenant, employer, or business entity to control the possession of weapons on any property owned or controlled by the person or business entity.”

The 10th Circuit opinion can be read  here .