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Tennessee Gives Employers Option to Allow Limited Carrying of Concealed Firearms at Work

Tennessee property owners, including employers, are generally authorized to prohibit the possession of weapons by any person at meetings conducted by an employer or on property owned, operated, managed, or under the control of an employer. Tennessee has adopted very specific requirements for how employers and other property owners must notify employees and visitors when they seek to prohibit firearms on their properties.

Notices of such a prohibition must be posted in prominent locations, including at all entrances primarily used by persons entering buildings where weapon possession is prohibited. If the possession of weapons is also prohibited on the premises of the property as well as within the confines of a building located on the property, the notice should be posted at all entrances to the premises that are primarily used by persons entering the property. When an employer’s property has been properly “posted,” possession of a firearm is a crime.

Under the law, the sign prohibiting weapons must contain all of the following:

  • the phrase “NO FIREARMS ALLOWED,” which must be at least one-inch high and eight inches wide;
  • the words “As authorized by T.C.A. § 39-17-1359” (in any size as long as it is “plainly visible”); and
  • a picture of a firearm inside a circle with a slash symbol over the firearm, at least 4 inches high and 4 inches wide with the diagonal slash at a 45-degree angle from the lower right to the upper left of the circle.

Tennessee has now adopted an alternative to a complete ban on firearms in the workplace. On April 24, 2018, Governor Bill Haslam signed Public Chapter No. 823. Under this amendment to Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1359, employers may now allow individuals authorized to carry handguns under Tennessee law (i.e., those with concealed carry permits) to carry handguns in a concealed manner on employer premises. An employer choosing to allow such concealed carry is still authorized to prohibit anyone else from having a firearm on the employer’s premises. If an employer chooses to allow concealed carry permit holders to carry handguns, the notice requirements are slightly different. The notices that the employer posts pursuant to this option must contain the following:

  • the phrase “CONCEALED FIREARMS BY PERMIT ONLY,” which must be at least one-inch high and eight inches wide;
  • the words “As authorized by T.C.A. §§ 39-17-1351 and 39-17-1359” (in any size as long as it is “plainly visible”)
  • a picture of a firearm inside a circle with a slash symbol over the firearm, at least 4 inches high and 4 inches wide with the diagonal slash at a 45-degree angle from the lower right to the upper left of the circle.

Again, Tennessee law still generally allows employers to prohibit employees and others from having firearms on employer premises. Previously, the only exception to this rule was that an employer could not prohibit a permit holder from keeping a firearm locked out of sight in his or her personal vehicle parked on the employer’s premises. Now employers, at their option, can allow permit holders to conceal and carry handguns anywhere on employer premises. 

© 2019, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.

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About this Author

Shareholder

William (“Bill”) Rutchow joined the firm in 1988.  After several years in the Greenville, South Carolina office, he moved to the Nashville office in 1995.  He is currently a Shareholder in the Nashville office. Bill currently concentrates his practice in three areas: Workplace Safety and Health, Unfair Competition/Trade Secrets, and Employment Litigation. Bill also has experience in commercial litigation, personal injury litigation, and NLRB proceedings.

Workplace Safety and Health - Bill has extensive experience in crisis management for clients involved in...

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