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New Illinois Gun Law Requires Employer Action to Keep Workplaces Gun-Free

Recent Illinois gun legislation means employers will shortly confront a new, potentially troublesome workplace issue: concealed firearms.

On July 9, 2013, Illinois lawmakers voted to override Governor Pat Quinn’s veto of House Bill 183, thus making Illinois the last state in the nation to allow the concealed carry of firearms. The law’s passage comes in the wake of last year’s Seventh Circuit ruling that Illinois’ ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional. The General Assembly’s vote occurred just in the nick of time, since the Seventh Circuit gave Illinois lawmakers until July 9 to revise its concealed carry law.

The bill reflects a compromise between both sides of the heated gun control debate that has stirred controversy throughout the state for years. Though certainly a victory for pro-firearm advocates, the legislation includes a host of limitations for those wanting to carry concealed firearms. Applicants seeking a concealed carry license must complete 16 hours of training, cannot have been convicted of a violent misdemeanor or any felony, and are subject to thorough mental health and background checks. Also, many places are off-limits to those carrying firearms, including schools, hospitals, public transportation, and sports arenas.

Of most concern to employers, though, are the provisions pertaining to private property owners. The bill leaves it to the discretion of property owners whether to permit or prohibit the concealed carry of firearms on their premises. For those who wish to prohibit firearms on their property, the bill mandates that owners post a sign “clearly and conspicuously” at the entrance of their building or property. The sign will be standardized according to state police guidelines, which have yet to be issued, though the bill specifies that the sign shall be four by six inches.

Still, even if property owners prohibit concealed carry and comply with the sign-posting requirements, licensees may still lawfully store their firearms in their vehicles while parked on the premises. The bill, however, mandates that licensees keep their firearms out of plain view and that they keep their car locked. Also, the bill provides a caveat that allows concealed carry in the “immediate area surrounding” the licensee’s vehicle for the purpose of storing and retrieving a firearm from the vehicle’s trunk, provided the gun is unloaded.

There remains uncertainty for those employers who operate on leased premises. The bill is unclear on whether “owner” encompasses lessees and those running business on leased property. However, it is expected that once the state police department issues regulations regarding the signage requirements, which is to occur within the next six months, the ambiguity will be resolved.

For employers, the new concealed carry law is important in at least three respects. First, it leaves it entirely up to employers, as property owners, whether to allow or prohibit the concealed carry of firearms in their workplaces. Second, if employers want to keep their premises gun-free, they must post signs to that effect “clearly and conspicuously” around the entrances to their properties. Third, employers must be aware that even if they do prohibit firearms and comply with the law’s sign requirements, guns may still be lawfully on their property if locked, and out of plain sight, inside a vehicle. Ultimately, it is up to employers to take affirmative steps if they want their workplaces to remain gun-free.

The new law may be accessed here.

© 2022 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume III, Number 198
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Kenneth J. Yerkes Employment lawyer Barnes Thornburg
Partner

Chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Department for two decades, Ken Yerkes has spent over 30 years successfully fighting for his clients' rights and business objectives at the bargaining table, in arbitration and federal and state court, as well as in plants across the country through proactive training, counseling and union avoidance campaigns.

Ken's ability to transform complex scenarios into workable strategies has earned him not only his clients' trust, but also acclaim as one of the country’s recognized leaders in labor and employment law. He is a fellow...

317-231-7513
John Koenig, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Atlanta and Indianapolis, Labor and Employment Law Attorney
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John T.L. Koenig is a partner in the Labor & Employment Department of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. He maintains a national, full-service practice representing management exclusively in all aspects of labor and employment law.

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Mr. Koenig represents companies in the grievance and arbitration process, collective bargaining, strike preparation, union organizing and election matters, and in unfair labor practice and representational cases before the NLRB. He frequently trains supervisors on effective and...

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Norma W. Zeitler, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Chicago, Employment Law Attorney
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Norma W. Zeitler is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a member of the Labor and Employment Department and the Associations and Foundations Practice Group. She concentrates her practice on employment law, and represents employers in the defense of employment discrimination, retaliatory discharge, breach-of-contract, workplace tort, and restrictive covenant cases in federal and state courts and administrative agencies. She also provides day-to-day counseling for employers on all matters that impact the employment relationship.

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William A. Nolan serves as the Managing Partner of Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Columbus, Ohio, office, which he opened in 2009. He is a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department. Bill has extensive experience as a litigator, trial lawyer and counselor. His practice includes a broad range of issues that organizations face in our rapidly changing competitive, legal and workplace environments. In short, he works to help management structure organizations, practices and relationships to proactively minimize the business disruption of disputes, and to help clients prevail when...

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Mark Kittaka, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Fort Wayne and Columbus, Labor and Employment Law Attorney
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Mark S. Kittaka is a partner and the administrator of the Labor and Employment Law Department of Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Fort Wayne, Indiana office. Mr. Kittaka’s practice covers all areas of labor and employment law including federal and state litigation concerning discriminatory practices and retaliation claims, including, but not limited to: Title VII race, sex, color, and religious discrimination claims; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (disability discrimination, reasonable accommodation, interactive process); Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); the Family and...

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