Skip to comments.America Online Can Fire Gun-Owning Employees
Posted on 07/23/2004 6:56:58 PM PDT by TYVets
America Online Can Fire Gun-Owning Employees Utah High Court Rules Friday, July 23, 2004
Self-defense took a big blow this week when the Utah Supreme Court upheld the right of America Online (AOL), America`s largest on-line service provider, to fire three employees whose firearms were stored in the trunks of their cars in the parking lot of an AOL call center in Ogden, Utah.
In a decision that diminishes rights guaranteed under both the Utah and the U.S. Constitution, the court acknowledged the individual right to keep and bear arms, but said the right of a business to regulate its own property is more important!
Complying with this decision could potentially cost an employee his or her life--violent criminals certainly aren`t going to obey such a ban.
It may also diminish employees` abilities to hunt or target shoot after work.
The issue is becoming a hot legislative topic in the states. This year Oklahoma passed HB 2122 ensuring that employees with guns in their cars were not fired or harassed, and it was debated in several other states.
Please look to future editions of the Grassroots Alert for developing information on this issue.
This is totally lame. The Constitution does not guarantee the right only to OWN a firearm, it guarantees you the right to BEAR that arm.
What you suggest is that a "company" is more powerful than the very foundation on which this country was founded. They are not! This has been proved over and over in courts that employers cannot infringe upon free speech. This is a Second Amendement issue, NOT a corporate policy issue. The Second Amendment is found in the same Bill of Rights where you will find the First Amendment. Why would one Amendment apply and not the other?
What you suggest is that just because you work for a particular company, if that company has a policy of searching your house and taking things it thinks you shouldn't own, then it should have a right to do so. Even though the Constitution protects you from illegal search and siezure from the government, Or if the "company" has a policy that you have to be Wiccan to work there, even though your religious protections are guarded by the Consitution. What you propose is that those protections so enshrined to protect individuals from tyranny are not extended to companies who make up their own unConstitutional rules, and those protections end when you go to work for somebody who simply thinks you shouldn't have them.
Could you please qualify this statement?
What I am suggesting is that companies have broader authority to make rules, because they have less power to enforce them.
I, as an individual, have no power to force you to cover your home's walls with Metallica memorabilia. I may, however, offer that if you do certain things for me, including covering your home's walls with Metallica memorabilia, I will give you $100. You would then have the right to accept my offer or reject it as you see fit.
Indeed, I would be within my rights demand that you do just about anything (other than sex acts, or acts which would take much over 16 hours) for my $100. You, conversely, would be within your rights to tell me to stick my $100 into a certain part of my anatomy if my demands were unreasonable. The reason I am within my rights to demand almost anything I want in exchange for my $100 is that if you don't do what I want, the most I can do to you is not give you the $100.
Could you please qualify this statement?
Basically, the issue is that if a company knows that an employee possesses or has possessed weapons on company property, and if that employee happens to go berzerk and kill people with such weapons, victims' lawyers will claim that the company should be held liable for failing to do something to prevent the person from bringing the weapons onto company property and shooting people.
You know and I know that such a line of reasoning is absurd. Unfortunately, in today's legal climate, there are judges who will let such cases be heard, and jurors who will buy into such arguments. The actual likelihood of a plaintiff ultimately winning such a case is irrelevant; such cases are expensive for the defendant regardless of who ultimately wins.
Not only does a company NOT have that Right, they would be commiting a federal crime (deprivation of civil Rights) by doing so.
They have no more legal ability to ban their employees from having guns than they have to not pay social security taxes.
Wrong. Many so-called 'corporate leaders' are inherently anti-gun. When you get to the really big corporations, most of the CEO's are just figureheads anyway, not unlike our political "leaders".
Power corrupts, and many of those bastards would demand 100 hour work weeks, and the wives and children of their employees if they could. Most of them would pimp out their mothers to get another $1000 bonus.
Those in power don't like peasants having guns, and will do everything in their power to stop it.
Actually, I think that most large companies are self-insured. But I'll address your point anyway.
First, an insurance company does not have the authority to deprive you of your Rights. Theoretically, all the insurance companies could demand that we turn in all or guns, and put cameras in our houses, connected to a central monitoring station; or they would charge us a billion dollars for the policy.
Secondly, the insurance company is essentially saying that they value a few dollars more than human life. Any decent man or woman should be totally repulsed by that ideology, and should make them pay $$$$$ out the nose if they are ever on a civil jury in judgement of such a company.
I strongly think the insurance industry is putting them up to it, in which case the proper target is the insurance company
If the insurance company conspired with AOL to create this policy, then they are BOTH engaging in a federal felony (deprivation of civil Rights).
The policy violates the following Rights of employees:
1) The Right to life
2) The Right to self defense
3) The Right to peaceably bear arms
4) The Right for their private possessions to be secure in their private vehicles.
5) The Right to carry a gun for self defense on public roads, to and from work
Federal law states that it is a crime to deprive, or even conspire to deprive anyone of the free exercise of their Rights:
TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 13 > Sec. 241.
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured -
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death
Very good point.
Also, see my previous posts. It looks like federal felonies might have been committed by AOL.
I wonder if a business owner would have the same right if faced with a city ordinance banning smoking in bars
I flatly disagree. Do you personaly know any 'corporate leaders' ?
I assume, from the quote, that you believe firing an employee can constitute injury, oppression, threat, or intimidation. But then where do you draw the line? If an employee wants to spout Nation of Islam philosophy at work, and he's fired, has he had his free speech rights violated? Can Linda Ronstandt sue the Aladdin for being removed from the stage for voicing her free speech rights? Is there a limit? What do you see as the employers' ability to restrict an employees' actions?
Let me rephrase that: "if a company were to decline to hire anyone who did not sign an affidavid stating that they did not own any firearms..." Any prospective employee would have the right to find such a policy objectioanle and walk out the door. And any current employee who at any time found such a policy objectionable would likewise be free to hand in walking papers and leave as well.
If I don't own a gun, and I decide to spend all my money on things other than firearms, my right to own a gun doesn't mean I can reasonably demand to be given one, nor does my lack of money mean I don't have a right to own a gun. The right to own a gun doesn't guarantee that one can do so without giving up other non-rights (like a year's worth of cable TV). If I decide the cable TV is more important than a firearm, it's my right to make that decision. I'll still have the right to get a gun as soon as I decide it's important enough for me to give up some other things so I can afford it.
Yes. Firing a person in the exercise of their Rights definately "injures" them, "oppresses" them, and "threatens" them.
If an employee wants to spout Nation of Islam philosophy at work, and he's fired, has he had his free speech rights violated?
No. Under common law, your Rights end where the other fellow's nose begins. A company has an expectation that you perform the work the pay you to do. If you fail to do so, they can fire you. So if you want to build a shooting range at work, or preach to the masses, they can definitely fire you, and have not violated your civil Rights.
On the other, they are violating your civil Rights if they fire you for having a gun or religious material or sex toys or whatever in your car.
Can Linda Ronstandt sue the Aladdin for being removed from the stage for voicing her free speech rights?
No. Now if she were sitting in her car, talking on her cellphone, and they fired her for what she was saying on the phone (unless it was propreitary company information), then she would absolutely have grounds for a lawsuit.
What do you see as the employers' ability to restrict an employees' actions?
They can do many things, but restricting the civil Rights of an employee is not one of them.
They can no more legally violate the civil Rights on any employee than they can refuse to pay social security taxes for him or her.
A company has an expectation that you perform the work the pay you to do. If you fail to do so, they can fire you. So if you want to build a shooting range at work, or preach to the masses, they can definitely fire you, and have not violated your civil Rights.
What if you are able to preach to the masses, for example, but still fulfill your employment obligations? What if you are the highest performing employee in your group, but you still like to proselytize? And I am still trying to differentiate the Linda Ronstadt situation... after all, she was removed for making statements that she obviously has a First Amendment right to make (and which, I'd say, the Aladdin has every right to disavow and remove her for making, since it is their property). But agruably, she did perform a concert as well, so did she fulfill her employment duties?
I still can't determine where/when an employer violates one's civil rights. Obviously an employer has to be able to control an employee to some extent... you can't use your free speech to spend all day making personal calls, etc. I am mulling over your approach that as long as you "perform the work they pay you to do" your other actions are exempt. That definition doesn't seem workable to me... too many loopholes. Why can't AOL say that part of the work they pay these people to do is to participate in the maintenance of a gun free employment environment? If they said that, as part of the hiring process, would your opinion be the same, or do you think these employees were sandbagged? It just seems that an employer could define your "duties" using really mushy language (i.e., it is part of your employment to celebrate the diversity of others kind of crap) and, using your definition, be okay. I guess for me it comes down to an employer can control your actions on their premises... not your thoughts, and not your racial/ethnic identity (difference between behavior and identity, covers prohibitions against racial discrimination). In this case, the guys were fired for having guns on the property (behavior on premises), not for being gun owners or hunting on own time. It's not a perfect solution but it seems the most workable to me... I still have faith in the market (employment and consumer) to work it out. Look at what happened to Whoopi Goldberg, after all.....
Yes indeed. I think most of the major points have been touched on, and I've learned a lot from this thread.
The big point I take away from all this is that the first purpose of government is to protect our Rights, regardless of where the threat comes from. Be it a foreign enemy or a domestic one.
Also, we Americans need to be very wary of the emerging government-corporate "parterships" (i.e., fascism). This is where the gov't gives preferrential treatment to a company in return for that company doing what the government wants. Sometimes it's blatant, sometimes not.
It is a very sneaky way of the government implementing agendas that they cannot get away with by going through the standard legislative and electoral procedures. It represents a real threat to our Freedom, and it's disappointing to see many conservatives rallying behing corporate "rights" at the expense of individual Rights.
Under your definition restaurants are public property and the government should have the right to ban smoking in them. Is that your contention?
And companies do not have rights under the Constitution, people do.
And yet they get enormous tax breaks unavailable to people. Go figure.
"This is not stopping anyone from hunting after work."
what does this have to do with hunting???? that drives me nuts when someone argues the right of gun ownership is dependent upon is relation to 'hunting'.
Generally property restaurants sit on are either owned by the restaurant or lease from private real estate investors. I can't think of a single restaurant where I live that sits on land owned by the government. I have no idea what they do "up nawth."