Business Law Alert: Please Check Your Guns at the Door; New Challenges for Employers under the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act

The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act (“FCCA”) permits a holder of a concealed carry license to carry a loaded or unloaded, fully or partially concealed firearm on his or her person and within his or her vehicle.  As a result of this law, employers should evaluate their policies to determine whether or not they wish to permit employees and visitors with concealed carry licenses to carry concealed firearms in the workplace.  For those employers wishing to ban concealed firearms in the workplace, the FCCA provides a mechanism to do so. 

First, it bears noting that the FCCA expressly prohibits the carrying of a concealed firearm at a number of locations, including: pre-schools and other educational institutions; federal, state and municipal government buildings; hospitals, mental health facilities and nursing homes; businesses where more than 50% of gross receipts are derived from the sale of alcohol; casinos; public playgrounds, parks and athletic facilities; professional sports stadiums and arenas; airports and amusement parks; and zoos and museums.  For employers at these locations, there is no need to do anything further to ban concealed firearms in the workplace. The ban is statutory and automatic. 

However, for other employers wishing to ban concealed firearms in the workplace, the employer must take affirmative acts to communicate and enforce the ban.  Specifically, employers must clearly and conspicuously post a 4” x 6” sign approved by the Illinois State Police at the entrances of the property.  The approved signage can be downloaded at https://ccl4illinois.com/ccw/Public/CCWProhibitedAreaSign.pdf. Employers who lease facilities must also first secure the consent of the property owner in order to prohibit firearms within the leased premises. 

Importantly, under the FCCA, an employer cannot prevent an employee or visitor with a concealed carry license from carrying their concealed firearm on their person within a vehicle or from storing their firearm in the vehicle while parked in the employer’s parking lot. The FCCA also allows the concealed carry license holder to carry the concealed firearm in the immediate area surrounding his or her vehicle in the parking lot for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving the firearm within the vehicle’s trunk.

A number of states’ concealed carry laws explicitly provide immunity from liability for workplace shootings to premises owners and employers who permit the carrying of concealed firearms.  However, the Illinois FCCA does not limit the liability of property owners who permit concealed-carry firearms on their premises.  As a result, employers who permit concealed-carry firearms on their premises may be at risk for premises liability claims and other civil actions from the victims of workplace shootings.  Employers are encouraged to consult with their insurance carriers to determine how permitting or prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms will impact their premiums, and whether their existing insurance policies are consistent with any ultimate decision regarding the carrying of concealed firearms. 

Employers desiring to prohibit firearms should update workplace policies to address the ban, and should further implement procedures regarding workplace searches, investigations and responses to workplace violence.  Policies should address how and when employees can be asked about concealed carry firearms, appropriate procedures for conducting workplace searches and when law enforcement should be involved in internal investigations. 

The attorneys at Gozdecki, Del Giudice, Americus, Farkas & Brocato LLP are prepared to answer any questions you may have regarding this Business Law Alert, and to assist you in reviewing and/or modifying any policies affected by the new law.  If you would like to speak with an attorney about any of the issues raised in this Business Law Alert, please contact your servicing attorney/contact.  Information contained in this Business Law Alert should not be construed as legal advice or opinion.