By J. Steven Collins
“Hey, Harlan, I heard Louise has got a shiny Colt Detective 38 Special locked up in her trunk.”
“She’s always pushing the rules. Guns are not allowed on company property. I’ve had it with Louise. This is it. I’m firing her.”
Wait, wait, don’t do it. In 2014, the state of Tennessee passed Tennessee Code Annotated 39‑17‑1313, commonly referred to as the “guns in trunks law.”
Since Louise (the employee) has a proper Tennessee carry permit, and since her Colt Detective 38 Special is locked up in her trunk, she is protected by the law. The law allows Louise to transport and store her gun in her vehicle. That law applies to the company parking lot. All Louise has to do is be on the property legally, be parked legally, and have her gun and ammunition “kept from ordinary observation.” A gun locked in the trunk is “kept from ordinary observation.”
Also if Harlan (the employer) does fire Louise, she can bring a lawsuit against the company, charging that her statutory right to have her gun locked in her trunk has been violated, and she can in turn seek and receive damages from the employer, including her attorney fees and litigation costs.
She can also get an injunction prohibiting her employer from violating that law and taking adverse employment action against her. These remedies for Louise are provided for in Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312. The result is that an employer of any size is now prohibited from discharging or taking adverse employment action against its employee in Tennessee “solely” for being in compliance with “guns in trunks.”
Be aware of these laws and take heed. Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312 became effective July 1, 2015.
J. Steven Collins serves in an Of Counsel role in Spicer Rudstrom’s Knoxville office. He is an experienced litigation attorney practicing in employment law, domestic relations, and premises liability. He has achieved an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, is past president of the Knoxville Bar Association, and is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville.