Laws vary on when guns are allowed at businesses

Laws vary on when guns are allowed at businesses

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Following the San Bernardino shooting, gun permit applications increased, but before bringing a gun in to work, there are important rules and law to note.

"I think there's really been a dramatic change over the past 10 or 15 years," Ariana Levinson, a University of Louisville Law professor who specializes in workplace law, said. "Fifteen years ago no employee would have been thought to be able to bring a firearm into their vehicle."

That's allowed in Kentucky, but that's about as far as the law goes.

[MORE: KY background checks on concealed carry permit holders performed monthly]

"In general, if you do bring a firearm on, you can be fired," Levinson said.

For private companies, employees often sign contracts or handbooks which prohibit having handguns in buildings. In public areas, employers can post signs prohibiting guns, as well. 

However, there are exceptions to those rules.

"Like if they told you you couldn't bring your weapon because you're a black woman, that would be discrimination," Levinson said. "Your union contract might give you some protection."

[MORE: Run, hide, fight: How to react if a mass shooter enters your workplace]

In most cases, though, employees don't sign contracts or have union protections, and being employed at-will means few rights.

"The employer has the right to terminate you for any reason, like they don't like your laugh or what you're wearing that day," Levinson said. "If you're employed at-will, it's probably best not to bring your firearms to work."

She said if an employer bans guns but an employee brings one anyway and ends up using it in self-defense, like a gas station clerk during a robbery, there are some legal outs.

"It seems like courts are more willing to say 'yes, you have that right to self defense and they can't terminate you,'" Levinson said.

She said employees should always review the risk and when in doubt, ask an attorney.

"They have to do a personal assessment," Levinson said. "How much is their job worth to them and how high is the likelihood really is of an active shooter coming into the environment where they work."

Copyright 2015 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.