Guns at Work: California Law Differs from Many States

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SavageE_eleakis204358-017My employee has a concealed carry permit and wants to bring his gun to work. He says if I don’t allow it in the building, then he will just leave his gun in the trunk of his car in our parking lot when he is at work. Do I have to allow this?

A concealed carry permit does not automatically allow an individual to bring a gun into the workplace of a private employer in California. Therefore you may choose to have a policy banning weapons in your workplace, even for those with a concealed carry permit.

Many states have so-called “guns-at-work” laws that require employers to allow employees to leave guns in their locked vehicles in the employer’s parking lot. Those state laws typically require the gun to be locked in the trunk or glove compartment of the vehicle, or otherwise be placed out of plain sight.

California, however, does not have such a law, so employers in California may ban guns even in employees’ vehicles parked in the employer’s lot.

Privacy Issues

If an employer chooses to have a policy banning weapons in the workplace, it is important to also have a policy with regard to searches of employer property. Such a policy might allow for searches of desks and other furniture, lockers and employer vehicles.

Unfortunately, California’s constitutional right to privacy may limit an employer’s ability to search an employee’s personal property in the workplace—such as purses, backpacks and briefcases—without employee consent. The same privacy restrictions apply to an employee’s personal vehicle, even when on employer property.

Reasonable Suspicion

However, an employer’s reasonable suspicion of a gun in an employee’s bag or vehicle might be enough to outweigh the employee’s right to privacy.

Employers who wish to conduct such searches of employees’ personal property should consult legal counsel.


The Labor Law Helpline is a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.

Staff contact: Ellen Savage

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Ellen Savage
About Ellen Savage
Ellen Savage joined the CalChamber in 1990 and currently serves as an HR adviser. She has been assisting employers on the Helpline for almost 15 years. She was the editor of eight editions of the California Labor Law Digest and author of the CalChamber's California Hiring to Termination Guide. Her experience also includes practicing at a large Sacramento law firm and presenting at dozens of employment law seminars statewide. She holds a J.D. from Lincoln Law School.