The extent of the regulatory power of an employer within the workplace often transgreses over the right to privacy of the employees. While the court upholds many times the right of the employers to exercise regulatory power over the workplace such as the conduct of search within the employee’s workplace, the same is only limited under justified circumstances. According to Perline and Goldschmidt (2004), the conduct of workplace search is only justified when the following elements are present: (1) there is reasonable ground to suspect misconduct of the employee or there is a valid, non-investigatory and work related purpose, and (2) the search is conducted in a reasonable manner. The legality of the conduct of search made by the employer within the company owned parking lot on the cars of the employees is highly questionable if the state where the search was made has an existing law declaring it unlawful for employers to ban lawfully owned and licensed weapons within the periphery of the workplace (BLR Business and Legal Sources, n.d.). Federal and state laws have different applicable provisions involving the issue and in case the above provision of the law is applicable on the state where the Gunderson Corporation operates its business, there is no doubt that there is a blatant violation of the rights of the employees and contract workers against unlawful search and seizure of the licensed firearms that also renders the corporation liable for unjust termination of employment with damages. Considering that the corporation has an existing policy prohibiting the possession of weapons within the workplace, it is a legal principle that regulatory measures that are contrary to an existing law should yield in favor of the latter. Thus, the company’s regulation may be held as contrary to law if there is a law that prevents employers against banning or prohibiting employees to keep licensed weapons inside their locked vehicles inside the employer owned parking lot. The employees and the contract workers can anchor their arguments that there was an illegal and unjust termination from their employment on the ground that the corporation has committed an unjust and unlawful exercise of search and seizure in the implementation of their company policy that is deemed to be contrary to law.
In view of the Gunderson Corporation’s defense against the wrongful termination suit, they can contend that the search and seizure conducted within its parking lot was exercised with a reasonable diligence of implementing its company objectives of ensuring a secured and safe workplace. If there is a state law prohibiting employers from banning licensed weapons from the vehicles of their employees, they can raise the issue that the search was the exemption to the prohibition insofar as the safety of the employees and the workplace in general is concerned where the search and seizure is necessary to prevent an immediate threat to human life and safety (Hancock, Holloway, et al., 2012). Moreover, the Gunderson Corporation can also repel the wrongful termination suit by raising the contractual obligation of the employees to uphold the company policies and regulatory measures that include the prohibition of weapons within the workplace and its peripheral property including the parking lot. The moment that an employee is hired they sign an employment contract, the provisions of which are binding between the employer and the employee. A contract is a legally enforceable agreement (Bagley, 2013) between the parties with the promise to do or not to do something and thus each party is bound to fulfill the agreement they entered into throughout the course of employment. When the company policy provides the prohibition against the presence of weapons within the company owned property and the same is stipulated in the contract, the employee binds himself to adhere to such policy the moment he consented to it and signed the agreement. Thus, the breach or non-fulfillment of the employees on such contract provision provides the employer a right to terminate the employees and the contract workers. The compay thus can argue that the termination is justified, lawful and within the purview of the contract of employment.
Whether or not which of the arguments and contentions of the Gunderson Corporation and the terminated employees will win in the court of law will highly depend upon the existing state law that will render the possession of licensed firearms of the employees in the employer owned parking lot lawful or unlawful. The general basic principle of law is that the court upholds the right of employers to exercise regulatory measures to ensure the safety of its employees and property provided that the same is not contrary to law. Contracts likewise shall not be impaired and are held as legally binding and enforceable to the parties involved as long as it does not contravene to any existing federal or state law. If there is no state law prohibiting employers from banning the employees to possess firearms inside their locked vehicle within the employer owned parking lot, the employers can enforce the regulatory policy in their employment contract against possession of firearms of their employees within its workplace and property and it is justified to terminate employees in violation thereof. However, if the law provides otherwise then the Gunderson Corporation unlawfully terminated the employees and violated their right to exercise the enjoyment of possession of a licensed firearm which is a right conferred by the state to its citizens and consequently unlawfully deprived them of their right to employment. With the growing numbers of states recognizing the right of employees to bring licensed firearms inside their locked vehicles, not to mention the number of jurisprudence upholding the rights of citizens against unjust termination of employees on the ground of unlawful and injustified search in the workplace, it is prudent for every employer to ensure that their company policy is not contrary to law and to cautiously perform search and seizure within the workplace in a lawful manner and reasonable cause without transgressing into the right of their employees against unlawful and unjustified search within the company premises.
Bagley, C.E. (2013). Managers and the legal environment: Strategies for the 21st century. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
BLR Business and Legal Sources (n.d.). Weapons. Retrieved from http://www.ehs-support.com/wp-content/uploads/State-laws-on-bringing-weapons-on-employer-premises.pdf
Hancock, J., Holloway, J.C. et al.(2012). Guns at the Workplace. Retrieved from http://www.bakerdonelson.com/files/Uploads/Documents/Guns_at_the_Workplace_5-520-4933.pdf
Perline, I.H. and Goldschmidt, J. (2004). The Psychology and Law of Workplace Violence: A Handbook for Mental Health. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas Publisher.