Terminated for Carrying

Eugene Volokh talks about a challenge to the Employment at Will doctrine that revolves around an employee being fired for carrying a licensed concealed firearm at work.  Interesting debate in the commentary.  I particularly like his brother Sasha’s comment here:

The right to self-defense is a sacred right.

Therefore, like all sacred rights, it should be waivable. Because a right that’s non-waivable barely deserves to be called a right at all — it’s more like a duty. You are required to retain your right to self-defense, whether you want to or not! The right to life should imply the right to suicide; the right to liberty should imply the right to contract away your liberty; the right to property should imply the right to alienate your property.

So the right to carry a gun should imply the right to agree not to carry a gun. You could agree to that by making a contract with a specific anti-gun clause; you could agree to that by making a contract incorporating a policy handbook with a prohibition on guns; or you could agree to that by making a contract of the form “you can fire me whenever you want for whatever reason you like,” which is the basic rule of at-will employment.

This is particularly notable given the NRA’s strategy of altering the Employment at Will doctrine in several states to make it illegal to fire employees who keep a firearm in their car while at work, which I have long disagreed with.  I may believe that an employer is being silly for believing that banning firearms on company property will do anything to stop a determined workplace shooter, but employers and employees should have a right to agree or disagree with such things.

12 Responses to “Terminated for Carrying”

  1. Tom says:

    OK, you can have that as soon as any place prohibiting self defense can be held accountable for lives lost and injuries encountered due to their policies.

  2. gattsuru says:

    The plaintiff alleges that there were no written rules against the lawful carry of concealed firearms, and that when he asked he was informed that there were no rules against the lawful carry of concealed firearms. As a result if his statements are true, he did not choose to have his right to bear arms waived, it was ‘waived’ for him by a third party.

    I should not need to point out how unfriendly the courts have been to the concept of rights being waived by third parties.

  3. James Nelson says:

    In the real world, people have to have jobs to survive. Companies’ abilities to restrict a citizen’s individual rights must be held to a strict standard. Not allowing concealed carry on the job may be reasonable for any number of reasons, but this must be spelled out in advance. There should be no right for any company to restrict what an employee has in his/her private vehicle.

  4. chris says:

    i totally agree that an employer has the right to prohibit firearms in its business… however, in my car is another thing… my car and all property inside it continues to be my property even if i drive it onto someone else’s property… and since most states recognize that a car is an extension of the home, it stands to reason that i cant be prohibited from carrying any form of (legal) property that i choose

  5. RAH says:

    Chris is right. The business property rights which are conditional do not trump my property rights to my car or contents.

  6. Sebastian says:

    I wouldn’t argue the fact that cars are your property. As I’ve said before, no employer will ever search my car or other personal effects. But one of the basic tenants of property rights is the right to exclude others from your property, and that’s what these types of laws are interfering with.

  7. MichaelG says:

    Corporations are not natural, they are legal constructs and as such do not have property rights or any other kind of right. They have privilages as granted by lawful government.

    On the other hand people do have rights. Including the right to self defense and the right to property.

    Unfortunately we have seen this strange legal fiction come about recently where corporations have been told they have rights and people have believed it. How Libertarians, who should believe in *individual* liberties first and foremost have come to embrace the economic tyrrany of corporate liberties and freedoms I have yet come to understand.


  8. Sebastian says:

    So groups of people can’t get together and purchase property and enjoy property rights? Your local shooting club is quite likely a corporation.

  9. MichaelG says:

    yes Sebastion, they can. There are good reasons to incorporate. But perhaps you can explain to me how a legal construct can have Natural, or God/Goddess given depending on your preferences, Rights. From Seneca to Locke to Jefferson I’ve not found a reference for them arguing for the rights of corporations. I’d welcome a reference to one.

    A corporation is not just a group of people coming together to do something. To be a corporation in the states I’ve lived in one or more people must choose to sign paper documents that are filed with and accepted by an agent of government. To have Rights a person need only to be born.

  10. Sebastian says:

    Because people have a natural right to free association, and I’m relatively unconcerned whether they call that association a corporation, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, or what have you. The corporation is the legal construct that recognizes the association, it’s not what gives a free association of people the same rights that individuals do. The association has those natural rights because the people that make it up have them. I have a natural right to speak for myself. Does that natural right disappear because a friend, or group of friends elects me to speak on their behalf?

  11. TCK says:

    I though an employee’s car was their property, not managements…guess I missed teh memo…

  12. Sebastian says:

    It is, but that’s not really the issue when the vehicle is on company property. Someone still has the right to exclude your car from their property.