Florida Guns At Work – Co-Advantage, 4-25-2008
Florida Governor Charlie Crist has signed the Florida “Guns at Work” law, which makes it illegal for public and private employers to have policies prohibiting firearms on their private property. Specifically, the law permits employees who have concealed weapons permits to keep firearms locked in their vehicles on company property. Additionally, the law permits customers or other “invitees” of a business to have firearms locked in their vehicles in the business’ parking lot, regardless of whether they have a concealed weapons permit.
Under the law, which takes effect July 1, 2008, employers may not:
* Prohibit employees, customers, or invitees from keeping a firearm locked in their vehicle on company property;
* Ask an employee, customer, or invitee about the presence of a firearm in the person’s vehicle on company property;
* Search a vehicle on company property to ascertain the presence of a firearm in the vehicle (the law provides that a search of a vehicle to ascertain the presence of a firearm may only be conducted by on-duty law enforcement personnel, based upon due process and must comply with constitutional protections);
* Take any action against an employee, customer or invitee based on statements concerning the presence of a firearm in a vehicle on company property;
* Condition employment on whether an individual holds a concealed weapons permit;
* Condition employment on an agreement that prohibits the employee from keeping a firearm locked in a vehicle on company property;
* Prohibit employees, customers or invitees from entering the company parking lot if the person’s vehicle contains a firearm that is out of sight in the vehicle.
Additionally, the law prohibits employers from terminating or otherwise discriminating against an employee or expelling a customer or invitee “for exercising his or her constitutional right to keep and bear arms or for exercising the right of self-defense as long as a firearm is never exhibited on company property for any reason other than lawful defensive purposes.”
Exceptions: The law does not apply to:
* Correctional institutions;
* Nuclear power plants;
* Property upon which substantial activities involving national defense, aerospace, or homeland security are conducted;
* Property upon which the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage, or transportation of combustible or explosive materials regulated under state or federal law, or importing, manufacturing, or dealing in explosive materials;
* A motor vehicle owned, leased, or rented by a public or private employer or the landlord of a public or private employer;
* Property upon which possession of a firearm or other legal product by a customer, employee, or invitee is prohibited pursuant to any federal law, contract with a federal government entity, or general law of Florida.
Update since the law was signed: The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation have filed suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Florida “Guns at Work” law.
The lawsuit claims that the law unconstitutionally violates private property rights. Additionally, the lawsuit claims that the law conflicts with the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). OSHA requires employers to furnish their employees a workplace that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to employees. The lawsuit claims that the “Guns at Work” law conflicts with this OSHA obligation because it requires employers to allow firearms in the immediate vicinity of their place of employment and prohibits employers from obtaining knowledge about the presence of such firearms or acting on information relating to such presence. Thus, the complaint claims that the law creates a hazard in the place of employment that is likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.
Penalties Increase for Certain Immigration Violations
Effective March 27, 2008, employers will face increased monetary penalties for the violation of certain immigration-related laws. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Attorney General issued a rule that adjusts for inflation the civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced by these two departments under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This is the first increase in the civil monetary penalties since 1999 and results in an approximately 25% increase over the current penalties.
The increased penalty amounts are effective March 27, 2008 and apply only to violations that occur after that date.
- Hiring, Recruiting, and Referral Sanctions: Under the current provisions, the penalty for knowingly hiring, recruiting or referring undocumented workers ranges from $275 to $2,200 per individual for a first offense, increasing to a maximum of $11,000 in the event three or more prior violations. Under the new provisions, the penalty range will increase to $375 to $3,200 for a first offense, up to a maximum of $16,000 for multiple prior violations.
- Employment of Undocumented Workers: Under the current provisions, the penalty for the knowing employment of undocumented workers ranges from $275 to $2,200 per person for a first offense, increasing to a maximum of $11,000 in the event three or more prior violations. Under the new provisions, the penalty range will increase to $375 to $3,200 for a first offense, up to a maximum of $16,000 for multiple prior violations.
- Form I-9 “Paperwork Violations”: The penalties for Form I-9 “paperwork violations,” including failure to properly complete the Form I-9 or failure to retain the Form I-9 for the required period of time, will remain at the current rate of $110 to $1,100 per violation. These penalties remain unchanged because they were below the threshold for an inflation adjustment under the relevant law.
- Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices: Under the current provisions, penalties for unfair immigration-related employment practices, such as discrimination against job applicants or employees based on nationally or citizenship status, range from $275 to $2,200 per act for a first offense, increasing to a maximum of $11,000 in the event of three or more prior violations. Under the new provisions, the penalty range will increase to $375 to $3,200 for a first offense, up to a maximum of $16,000 for multiple prior violations. However, the penalties for “document abuse,” refusal to accept permissible documents presented by an employee in compliance with the Form I-9 requirements, will remain at the current range of $110 to $1,100 per violation.
Co-Advantage – March 2008