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Annie Get Your Gun … and Bring it to Work

BY CSA STAFF

By Daniel J. Schuch, Nelsy C. Gómez and David L. Barron

On June 17, 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill into law that will limit an employer’s right to prohibit guns and ammunition in the workplace. While the law does not necessarily allow employees to carry firearms at work, it does allow employees to store, and have access to, firearms kept in privately owned vehicles that are parked on or in employer provided parking areas. Considering the fact that 461,724 Texas residents hold a concealed handgun license, this law is likely to have a significant impact on the workplace across a broad swath of industries.

Background
After three failed legislative sessions, Texas State Sen. Glenn Hegar introduced Senate Bill 321 on January 7, 2011 to help Texas residents “regain their Constitutional right to protect themselves as they travel to and from work.” The bill was passed by the Texas Senate on March 15, 2011 and the House of Representatives on May 4, 2011. Governor Perry signed the bill into law on June 17, 2011, with an effective date of September 1, 2011.

Scope of the law
Frequently referred to as a “guns-at-work” or “parking lot” bill, the law prohibits public and private employers from enacting and enforcing policies that prevent employees from transporting or storing firearms in their locked, private vehicles while parked on or in an employer provided parking area. However, the law does not prevent employers from prohibiting the possession of concealed handguns on company property; rather, the restrictions are limited to employers’ treatment of employee parking lots. Importantly, the law applies to all lawfully-owned firearms, not just those owned under a Concealed Handgun License (CHL).

In addition to Texas, a total of seventeen states have enacted “guns-at-work” or “parking lot” laws, including Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio and Utah, with each state imposing varying restrictions on employers’ right to restrict firearms on company property.

Exemptions
The Texas “guns-at-work” law comes packed with a number of significant exceptions that would allow an employer to retain some discretion regarding firearms on company property.

Specifically, the law does not apply to:

  • School districts, open-enrollment charter schools and private schools;
  • Vehicles owned or leased by the employer and used by an employee to perform his or her job (i.e. company car);
  • Property owned or leased pursuant to a mineral lease that prohibits the possession of firearms on the property; and,
  • Property owned or leased by a chemical manufacturer or oil and gas refiner that is permitted under the Texas Clean Air Act, the primary purpose of which is the manufacture, use, storage, or transportation of hazardous, combustible, or explosive materials. However, employees working on such property who hold a CHL may store firearms in their vehicles in or on an employer provided parking area that is outside of a secured and restricted area that contains the physical plant; or open to the general public; and under constant monitoring by security personnel.

The exceptions to the law could prove to be difficult for employers to negotiate, particularly in cases of employees who work between multiple work locations, some of which are covered by an exception, others of which are not.

For example, consider the human resources employee who regularly works in an office that is covered by the law but who frequently visits an oil refinery that is subject to an exemption. The employee would be allowed to store a gun in his or her vehicle at one work place, but not the other. To avoid confusion, we therefore recommend that all employers review their facilities to determine which ones are covered by an exemption and advise employees of the governing restrictions.

Immunity from liability
While some employers may find that the law intrudes upon their private-property rights, it also provides a shield from some liability. Unless gross negligence is involved, an employer cannot be sued for damages that result from an incident involving a firearm that is stored according to the provisions of the law.

Conclusion
Despite strong opposition to the law by a multitude of business groups, as of September 1, 2011, employees can begin taking their guns to work, without facing the risk of being terminated for doing so. Accordingly, employers are encouraged to promptly review any workplace policies relating to the possession of firearms on company property to ensure compliance with the new law.

Daniel J. Schuch, Nelsy C. Gómez and David L. Barron are all labor and employment attorneys at Cozen O’ Connor, Houston. They can be reached at [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].

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Apr-18-2013 09:57 am

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RetailROI launches database for retailers to donate overstocked goods to local charities

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — The Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI) has launched an online charity locator to match up retailers looking to donate overstocked merchandise with local charities, thus receiving a potential tax deduction for items that were not going to be selling at a profit.

"Retailers’ overstocks can make a huge difference," said Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group and Donor Trustee for the Retail Orphan Initiative, a charitable foundation under the umbrella of the Giving Back Fund, established to help the 400 million orphaned and vulnerable children worldwide. "By cleaning their stores of the items that aren’t selling and getting their employees focused on the items that are, they help women and children in need – providing a lifeline that brings long-term dividends to the community.”

The charity locator features an interactive map of nearby charities from a RetailROI-developed database of 501c3 organizations across the country that focus on at-risk children, women in distress, or families in need. It includes the top 125 cities and top 300 largest malls in the United States, with information on types of items each charity accepts, including clothing, food, furniture, building materials and educational materials.

According to ROI, the vast majority of the estimated $65 billion overstocks are in small lots at local stores, making it costly to consolidate this merchandise. Retailers spend an inordinate amount of labor and cost on printing new price tags for items they know are not selling, often compounding a loss by adding more cost. Worse yet, the retailers often sell those items at a loss to consolidators, incurring more cost in shipping.

RetailROI’s charity locator is available online at retailroi.org/charity-locator.

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R.Ponting says:
Jan-02-2013 06:45 pm

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R.Ponting says:
Jan-02-2013 06:45 pm

Thanks for taking this opportunity to discuss this, I feel fervently about this and I like learning about this subject. If possible, as you gain information, please update this blog with more information. I have found it really useful. Geneva Watches

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Navarro Discount Pharmacy promotes Ortiz to CEO

BY CSA STAFF

MIAMI — Regional pharmacy chain Navarro Discount Pharmacy, which currently has 29 stores, has named finance executive Juan Ortiz the company’s CFO, to the position of CEO.

Ortiz succeeds CEO Steve Kaczynski, whose expertise in retail merchandising and marketing over the last 18 months has been instrumental in setting a strategic direction for the company and expanding its footprint in South Florida and nationally.

"Juan Ortiz and his team have worked diligently on [giving] Navarro¹s successful financial turnaround building a singular focus and working hand-in-hand with management and employees to execute an effective, long term plan," stated Jorge Rico, a co-founding partner of MBF Healthcare Partners, Navarro’s equity partner. "In addition, Juan’s leadership over the last three years laid the needed groundwork for the first phase of Navarro¹s three-year store expansion plan, now being implemented, as well as record sales and earnings in the company’s 50-year history."

Kaczynski is credited with leading the company to year-over-year increases in sales and earnings and developing a new branding and revitalization program, which included its store expansion and e-commerce capabilities, as well as unveiling the Vida Mia brand, Navarro¹s own bilingual, private-label brand of Hispanic products.

Ortiz joined Navarro as its CFO in August 2008. He and his team stabilized sales and customer traffic, identified new revenue streams, increased profitability and reduced operating expenses by $10 million in a 24-month period, the company stated.

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