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More Cases of Employer Nonsense

Florida’s bill was spawned by something Disney Corporation did.

I represent Doug and Linda Gray, a husband and wife who were both employed by the Walt Disney World Company. They worked similar shifts, and traveled to work together. The Grays had to begin their commute before sunrise, and had to travel through some less than safe areas. In fact, they had been accosted on their commute to work in the past. They contacted law enforcement about this and were advised that they should purchase a firearm for their own protection during their commute. Based on this advice, Mr. Gray purchased a revolver to protect he and his wife. When the Grays arrived at work, the revolver was locked in their vehicle.

The Grays were both hired by Disney on November 13, 1996. They met at Disney during the final entry interview process, and were later married. Just 17 days before their 10th anniversary of employment at Disney, they were both terminated. While Mrs. Gray was being asked about an absence from work, she responded that her husband was unable to attend, and she didn’t feel safe traveling into work without him. Upon further questioning, Mrs. Gray revealed that Mr. Gray had the firearm in their vehicle for their protection. Disney had the vehicle searched, and the firearm was found, locked in the vehicle where the Grays indicated it was. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gray were terminated. Additionally, Disney had the Orange County Sheriffs issue a trespass warning against Mr. and Mrs. Gray, so that neither could step foot on any Disney property again.

Well, I can tell you, if we win Heller, I hope the attorneys won’t be going to Disney World. But I think this is a good lesson in keeping your mouth shut about how your provide for your own personal security. It’s a bad idea to blab about your carry status; there’s just no reason to mention it. You’re not doing anything wrong or illegal, and it’s none of their damned business anyway.

13 Responses to “More Cases of Employer Nonsense”

  1. That “tresspass warning” is another ridiculous gem which gets abused by companies like Disney. It is a good idea to read what Attorney Gutmacher of Orlando has to say about “Tresspass Warnings” (http://orlandocriminallawyer.blogspot.com/2007/09/trespass-and-trespass-warnings-in.html)
    “From a legal standpoint – there is no legal authority to issue a trespass warning unless there is an actual trespass.”

    I agree with Robb about Disney lawfully firing whomever they please for whatever reasons they want. That is life. These parking lot bills are supposed to be an affirmation that you are guaranteed the right to privacy withing your conveyance. What happens when you pull into the Disney parking lot with an NRA sticker on your car, and they want to make sure you don’t have a firearm in your vehicle?

    Most of these laws, from what I understand, do not prohibit a company from firing you for having a firearm in your car. Rather, they prohibit the company from searching your car, for the same reason they are not allowed to search your home.

  2. Sebastian says:

    In reality, it’s not really a property issue. It’s more of an employment law issue. You do have a legal right to keep a firearm in your vehicle, no matter where it is. When you park your car on someone else’s property, they can assert a certain amount of control over yours, like towing it, for example. This doesn’t really change just because the parking lot is owned by your employer. And employer has no legal power to search your vehicle.

    An employer can ask for consent to search your vehicle, you can grant it or deny it. If you deny it, you may be fired, but if they forcibly search your vehicle, you can charge them with vandalism. If they use physical force against you to get your keys, you’re lawfully entitled to use force to protect yourself, and leave the premises. If they try to restrain you, you’re lawfully entitled to use force to defend yourself. Basically, you can assert your property rights.

    But your employer can fire you and demand you leave company property for doing so. These laws are essentially employment laws that prevent employers from being fired for asserting their property rights over their vehicles.

  3. I agree with that for the most part. I understand they have no legal right to search your vehicle, and that these laws are an attempt to eliminate coercion, via threat of termination, to that end.

    I would be fine with a company saying “no guns in your car at work”, but I would not be fine with a company saying “you give us the right to search your vehicle while you are employed with us.” I guess it is mostly an employment rights issue, but it certainly overlaps the line between that and property rights. As I said before, I would not allow my boss to come home and search my house to make sure I don’t have something that is “against company policy”. I figure if I were fired for that, I would already have grounds for litigation.

    This reminds me of similar cases of companies deciding that employees are not allowed to smoke. Sure, they are within their rights to enforce a rule like that when the employee is on the clock, but the case gets shaky when the company says “you may not smoke at home either.”

    Of course, the reason companies want to keep guns off of their property anyway boils down to liability. It wouldn’t be nearly as big of an issue if companies were protected from lawsuits in the event that an employee used a firearm in self defense while on their property.

  4. Glenn B says:

    Actually they have every leagal right to search your vehicle if it is parked upon their property and they are granted consent via your contract of employment or your entry onto their property that was properly marked with signs saying all who enter are subject to search. You also have no right to carry a weapon upon the private property of another who forbids you to enter that property with arms; especially when such is part of your employment contract. My bet is that the contracts of both the husband and wife stated this plainly, though maybe in the small print. Too bad they did not read their contracts, remember them, or just chose to disregard them.

    I do not like the fact that many corporations make it employment policy that allows for vehicle searches in the corporations’ parking lots, nor do I like it that companies forbid firearms or other arms on their property; but I (and I am willing to bet every last one of you) likes to be the king of your own castle. Like it or not though, these companies are in effect exercising their right to control what goes on on their property. That is the way it has been for hundreds of years, and that is the way it should remain. Of course, companies should choose to allow firearms and other arms onto their property with no hesitation as far as I see it, but if they do not, that choice is theirs to make – isn’t it. Then again it is our choice to avoid such places.

    All the best,
    GB

  5. Glenn, nobody has the RIGHT to search my vehicle. If a legally executed employment contract says they may search it, that is different. That may have been the case in this story. However, employment contracts can generally be broken by either party for just about any reason. Therefore, if the Grays would have said “no, you can’t search my vehicle, because we quit”, they could have simply left. I’m not saying Disney was in the wrong by terminating their employment, but I am saying that Disney never had any way, except the employee’s admission, of finding a gun in their car.

    The recently defeated law in FL would have simply made it so that denying a company the right to search your car would no longer be legitimate grounds for termination of employment.

    Also, just for your information in some states, including Florida, “No Guns” signs carry no weight of law. “Trespassing” only occurs when you are somewhere you reasonably believe you have the right to be, and you have been asked to leave and refuse. You are correct in saying that you have no “right” to carry a weapon onto someone else’s property. However, you are only in violation of the law (at least here in FL) when in doing so, you are also trespassing (even worse, it is actually “armed trespass” which is a felony.) If the property owners do not know that you have a gun, then no law has been broken. I know these points aren’t really applicable to the case that Sebastian pointed out, but I think they are relevant to the overall debate.

  6. Sebastian says:

    If a legally executed employment contract says they may search it, that is different. That may have been the case in this story. However, employment contracts can generally be broken by either party for just about any reason. Therefore, if the Grays would have said “no, you can’t search my vehicle, because we quit”, they could have simply left. I’m not saying Disney was in the wrong by terminating their employment, but I am saying that Disney never had any way, except the employee’s admission, of finding a gun in their car.

    I think you’d be liable for breach of the employment contract, but in terms of how much control they can exert over your mobile property because it’s resting on their fixed property, I don’t know. That’s an area of law I’m entirely unfamiliar with. I’m pretty sure they can forcibly remove your property, and hold the property until you pay for the costs associated with its removal, but I don’t know how much right they have to outright seize it, or to forcibly search it.

  7. straightarrow says:

    I had a similar issue years ago where it was explained to me that company policy meant they could search my car. I explained that I had a policy of beating the living hell out of anyone trying any such foolishness.

    They said “But it’s policy.” I said, “Yep, so is mine.”

    They said they would fire me. I said I have already quit, then I explained that he had better never be anywhere I was from that point on. He asked if it was a threat, I assured him it was only damn good advice.

    Ironically, the only thing I had in that car was my interest in it. No guns, no drugs, no contraband, no company property, not a damn thing that would harm me in any way for anyone to know. I wasn’t about to give up my citizenship or my claim to manhood by letting the prick walk on me. I was perfectly willing to harm him seriously if he could not be dissuaded.

    I may have lost my job, but I kept the important stuff. He lost far more than I did. He lost the best employee he had ever had and he engendered an undying animosity in him.

  8. Gregg says:

    “You are correct in saying that you have no “right” to carry a weapon onto someone else’s property.”

    Since when did stepping onto someone elses property eliminate my ownership of myself and what is attached to my body? Same as what is in my vehicle, just by pulling onto or parking on someone elses property they do not obtain ownership of my vehicle, no matter what signs they put up.

  9. Gregg (good name, by the way… too many Gs though ;) :
    I probably could have phrased that better. What I meant by that statement was that you do not have the right to be on someone else’s private property while carrying. Note the difference. Having a gun has nothing to do with it. The owner may set whatever rules they want about who/what is allowed on their property. However, the property owner’s rights do no give them the right to do anything beyond asking you to leave.

    Therefore, given a situation like this, you can either submit to a search of your person or vehicle, or you can leave the property. I’m fine with that. Your choice. The problem I have is that people don’t realize that they have the right to say “no you may not search my car.” This entire issue is centered around trespass law, rather than personal privacy, search and seizure, gun laws, etc.

    Frankly, the way I would handle it is this:
    Assuming I choose to have a gun in my car, and the posted/known policy is that no guns are allowed on the property, I would ignore the policy, and simply not let anyone know I had a gun. If asked, I would lie. Giving an answer like “none of your business” just makes things worse. If the property owner demanded I allow them to search my car, I would leave. I guarantee that 99.999% of the time, there will be no problems. the other 0.0001% of the time, you have to make a decision, like Straightarrow did, to either give up your personal privacy, or leave the property (and possibly lose your job.)

    As Sebastian said: “It’s a bad idea to blab about your carry status”.

  10. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    Straightarrow seems a lot like NeoNietzsche.

  11. straightarrow says:

    If I am not mistaken Nietssche was a nihilist. (could be remembering him wrongly) I am not. But I will pay whatever price is necessary to retain my dignity as a free man. Including dying free if that is what it comes to, I will kneel at no man’s feet of my own volition.

    My attitude has saved my life more than once. Because I was willing. Moreso than those that would do me harm.

    Yet, you will find no man I have ever employed force against for any reason other than defense. However, I will say defense does not end when they break off, it ends when I have made sure they will never try again.

    Outside of that, most people who know me face to face think I don’t have a serious bone in my body or ever equate me with the ability to be dangerous. Most people who know me have never pissed on me. That’s what’s called a clue. And I like most of them, not all, but I treat them all with respect as humans.

    I hold myself above no man, nor below him. Not quite true, there are some reprehensible monsters out there, that I most assuredly hope I am better than, at least in societal terms.

  12. Dion says:

    Kentucky recently passed a law that prevents employers from telling employees that they cannot have weapons securely lock in their vehicles. Weapons must be secured according to KY law, meaning that handguns are contained in the “glove box”. (A console is not a glove box)
    The intent is to provide a means for persons to be able to defend themselves going to and coming from work.
    The employer may still have policy for no weapons at the workplace and terminate people that violate the policy. Just that the policy cannot include lawfully stored weapon in the employees vheicle.
    I considered this to be an great law.

  13. Michael A. Albert says:

    Just found your site through The Sight M1911. Good stuff. American from Pennsylvania living and working in the Philippines for a short time. Trying to keep up on my gun rights and other related stuff.

    As far as the two Disney people being fired…I agree, she should not have said anything. None of their business and as far as Disney goes…if they sponser a Gay Day, that should tell you they hate gun owners, too. Liberals all have the same guide book they follow. Guess who will never get any more of my money on vacations? Wonder is Walt, being the gun owner he was, is spinning in his grave.

    Thanks for the site

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