Illinois recently enacted the Firearm Concealed Carry Act making it the last state to allow individuals who meet certain qualifications to carry concealed firearms. The law has a significant impact on employers, particularly on restaurant and bar owners that serve alcohol on the premises.
Under the law, private property owners, including employers, may prohibit individuals from carrying a concealed weapon. If employers want to exercise this right they are required to "clearly and conspicuously" post a sign at the entrance to the building or property indicating that concealed carrying of firearms is prohibited. If there is no sign posted, it is presumed that individuals are permitted to carry a concealed weapon on the property.
The law lists several prohibited areas where individuals may not carry concealed weapons, such as pre-schools, elementary and secondary schools, and hospitals; and has a significant impact on restaurant and bar owners in that it specifically prohibits the carrying of concealed weapons into establishments that serve alcohol if more than 50 percent of their gross receipts within the past three months are from the sale of alcohol. Business owners who fail to comply with this provision, or who knowingly make a false statement about the prohibition may be subject to penalties up to $5,000.
The parking lot carve out of the law allows individuals with a concealed carry license to carry and store firearms out of sight within a vehicle on the property's parking lot, even if the property owner prohibits concealed carry and posts the appropriate signs. As a result, employers may not restrict employees from carrying or storing a firearm in a locked vehicle on the property's parking lot. This provision applies to the prohibited areas mentioned above. Additionally, employers may not restrict employees from carrying concealed firearms in a company-owned vehicle.
According to Stacey Smiricky, a partner in Faegre Baker Daniels labor and employment group in its Chicago office: "The Department of State Police has 180 days (or until January 4, 2014) to draft the regulations. Thereafter, the Department has 90 days to review concealed carry applications. As such, concealed weapons in the workplace will not be an immediate reality."
Smiricky also noted: "Employers who wish to take action now can post a sign four inches by six inches in size indicating that weapons are prohibited. Employers also can begin drafting workplace policies stating weapons will not be permitted on the premises. Employers should be mindful; however, that the statute provides that employees must be permitted to carry a concealed firearm in his or her vehicle into the parking lot and store the firearm (or ammunition) in a case that completely conceals it within a locked vehicle or locked container out of plain view within the vehicle in the parking area."
Additionally, she stated: "It should be noted that the rules are a bit different for bars and taverns. Concealed weapons are banned at those establishments."