U.S. Sixth Circuit - The FindLaw 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Court Affirms Firing of Employee Who Carried Gun at Work

It should come as no surprise that Kentucky -- famous for the Kentucky Long Rifle -- allows workers to lawfully carry concealed weapons on the job.

After all, "Brown Bessie" was America's first firearm. She cleared the frontier, won the Revolution, and made U.S. history as much as any settler. So in Kentucky, they stand united behind their guns.

And so did Bruce Holly. He had a concealed weapons permit, and he kept a gun in his car at United Parcel Services.

The problem was the employer had a policy against workers possessing or using weapons on company property. And after Holly took the gun out of his car and placed it in another employee's vehicle, the company fired him.

Jammed Firing

Holly sued for wrongful termination, asserting his right to carry a concealed weapon at work under Kentucky Revised Statutes § 237.110 and § 237.110(17). But a trial judge threw the case out, and the federal appeals court affirmed.

"While it is undisputed that Holly possessed a gun in his vehicle UPS SCS premises--which is gun possession protected under Kentucky law--it is likewise undisputed that he removed the gun from his vehicle and placed it in another employee's vehicle--which is not gun possession," the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said in Holly v. UPS Supply Chain Solutions.

UPS said it fired Holly for poor performance and violating a company policy against asking a co-worker for a favor on company time. Holly said it was a pretext for his having a gun at work, but the appeals court said it didn't matter.

Shot in the Back

Holly tried to bootstrap the gun laws to cover for him when he left the gun in his co-worker's car, arguing that it was still "responsible gun possession." His co-worker, however, did not share his feelings.

Kenneth Moore, a subordinate, had agreed to keep the gun in his car while Holly's car was at a repair shop. But Moore got nervous about having the weapon, and reported it to a supervisor.

In dissent, Judge John M. Rogers said that Holly had a right to possess the firearm and that the company may actually have fired him for having it. He should have had the chance to take the case to a jury, the judge said.

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