In a USA Today article, a Pizza Hut driver defended himself from an armed criminal by pulling out his 9mm handgun and killing the robber. The news drew a lot of attention from several perspectives. Pizza Hut fired the driver stating that it was against their company policy to carry firearms. But if the driver was in his own personal vehicle, should he have the right to have a firearm on his own property?
This can be a precarious challenge for businesses. While all companies want their workers to remain safe, the business can be placed at risk if an event occurs and legal action ensues. There are multiple facets to this issue, particularly when it applies to field service technicians who are routinely out at odd hours and can be vulnerable to criminals.
The following is a discussion regarding field service workers and guns to help businesses review these pros and cons in an effort to better educate and make an informed decision for your own company.
Employers could be held liable if an employee is allowed to carry and uses a gun for violent purposes. This has made many companies wary of permitting guns to be carried while on the job.
EMT’s, firefighters and other emergency workers may be allowed to carry guns depending on their particular jurisdiction. The nature of their work exposes them to more violence than typical field workers, so it may make sense for them to carry firearms if the employer deems it appropriate.
Some employers might consider mandating appropriate training if guns are permitted to be carried. In this way employers can feel more comfortable that their workers will respond appropriately in violent situations.
If an employee must defend themselves in the field, most jurisdictions define self-defense as the amount of force needed to avert the attack. If a gun is utilized there could be debate as to whether excessive force was utilized in defense. This can subject the worker and the employer to prosecution or law suits.
The Society of Human Resource Management notes that rules for employers can vary from state to state. Depending on the state, an employer can ban weapons that may be kept in cars, in parking lots, or on the persons themselves. It is strongly recommended that all employers adopt a workplace violence and prevention policy that is tailored to their particular business and is in compliance with local and state gun laws. If an employer is not familiar with local laws it is advised to check with a local law enforcement agency to make sure there is a clear understanding.
Field service technicians could unintentionally intimidate customers if they arrive at a work site armed. Field technicians that call on residential customers may consider leaving any weapon in their vehicle in a secured location, with employer permission.
With the increased awareness of gun violence across the country, it is time for employers to review their policies and determine what would be most appropriate for their particular business. Each situation is unique, and businesses must keep in mind their safety and security while also working to prevent and avoid violent situations whenever possible.