Texas personal vehicle search at workplace


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GI_Jared
February 10, 2013, 10:30 PM
My little brother works in south Texas at oil rig sites for weeks at a time. These drill sites have a no weapons policy, but this is commonly broken because people keep a firearm in their car for defense when driving the roads of south Texas. So once they pull into the confines of the drill site they are in violation of company policy.

I was talking to him tonight and he said that a company that he frequently works for is going to be bringing out state troopers to perform inspections of people's vehicles to ensure that they are all complying with company policy. I told him that police can't just search your vehicle without some sort of just cause, and was pretty sure that it was not illegal to store a firearm in a personal vehicle regardless of company policy.

However, I am not from Texas and do not know the laws there. I would hope that people would be able to have a firearm for defense when driving on those roads. If anyone has some insight into the legality of this it would be appreciated.

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NavyLCDR
February 10, 2013, 10:42 PM
Well, when police in Alamogordo, New Mexico attempted to enforce company policy, the courts ruled that the police violated the person's rights who was carrying the gun and the city settled out of court for $21,000. I see the same thing happening in Texas. The police have the authority to detain a person under suspicion of committing a crime only - NOT enforcing a company policy.

http://www.examiner.com/article/alamogordo-police-pay-21-000-to-settle-open-carry-lawsuit

CountGlockulla
February 10, 2013, 10:48 PM
A few years back Texas had tried passed a law allowing you to keep a handgun in your car even on company premises, however, it did not make it up for vote before the congressional session ended. Unless the law has changed the company can search your brothers car on their property.

Skylerbone
February 10, 2013, 11:00 PM
Sounds like a very gray area in need of a professional opinion. I work for a municipality with a no firearms policy which means I carry after 4pm and on weekends. My pistol stays at home, off property and I avoid the unemployment line.

JohnKSa
February 10, 2013, 11:04 PM
I told him that police can't just search your vehicle without some sort of just cause, and was pretty sure that it was not illegal to store a firearm in a personal vehicle regardless of company policy.That is correct. The police can't search without your permission or probable cause. Suspecting you of having a firearm in your car would not be probable cause because you can legally have a firearm in your vehicle in TX--although it must be concealed from view if it is a handgun.

If you refuse permission, the police will not search your car, but you will be fired.Unless the law has changed the company can search your brothers car on their property.No, they can not. But they CAN ask you for permission to search it and fire you for refusing to allow the search.A few years back Texas had tried passed a law allowing you to keep a handgun in your car even on company premises, however, it did not make it up for vote before the congressional session ended.It was reintroduced in a subsequent legislative session and passed. However, there are some exceptions. As I recall, the big oil & gas companies had enough money and influence to get themselves excepted from the law.

GI_Jared
February 10, 2013, 11:04 PM
Looks like it is legal to have a handgun in your vehicle only if you have a permit to carry, per SB 321. I believe this is how it is in Minnesota too.
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/82R/billtext/html/SB00321F.htm

joeschmoe
February 10, 2013, 11:04 PM
Sounds like talk to scare people into compliance. In Texas it is illegal to violate the owners right to prohibit the carrying of arms on private property.
But that doesn't mean they can get the troppers to search everyone entering their property to check for compliance.

Property owners/employers have rights and so do employee's. Usually one ends where the other begins.

NavyLCDR
February 10, 2013, 11:07 PM
Unless the law has changed the company can search your brothers car on their property.

1. The company can search ONLY if the person consents to it. They can certainly fire the person for not consenting (or any other reason they choose).

2. I would think it would be a misuse of public resources for the State Troopers, while on duty, to be used to perform private employer procedures. They can hire the State Troopers on their off-duty time to perform the searches ONLY if the subject consents.

Texan Scott
February 10, 2013, 11:09 PM
As of September 1, 2011, most Texas employers cannot prohibit employees from possessing guns in their locked, personal vehicles on employers’ premises. Texas Senate Bill 321 (“SB 321”) – which Governor Rick Perry signed into law on June 17, 2011, and which goes into effect on September 1, 2011 – restricts public and private employers from prohibiting an employee who holds a concealed handgun license or “who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition” from transporting or storing firearms or ammunition in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle located in a parking lot, parking garage or other parking area the employer provides for the employee. There are exceptions to this prohibition: 1. Employees still cannot possess firearms in locations prohibited by state or federal law (e.g., Texas Penal Code § 46.03 prohibits individuals from possessing firearms on school premises, secured areas of airports, polling places, and other locations); 2. The prohibition does not apply to: (a) school districts; (b) open-enrollment charter schools; (c) private schools; or (d) non-employer-owned property that is subject to a valid, unexpired oil, gas, or other mineral lease that contains a provision prohibiting the possession of firearms on the property; and 3. The prohibition does not apply to property owned or leased by a chemical manufacturer or oil and gas refiner with an air authorization under the Texas Clean Air Act and on which the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage or transportation of hazardous, combustible, or explosive materials, unless the employer’s employee parking lot, parking garage or other parking area is outside of the secured and restricted area that contains the physical plant, is not open to the public and has constant security personnel-monitored access.

dogtown tom
February 10, 2013, 11:14 PM
GI_Jared My little brother works in south Texas at oil rig sites for weeks at a time. These drill sites have a no weapons policy, but this is commonly broken because people keep a firearm in their car for defense when driving the roads of south Texas. So once they pull into the confines of the drill site they are in violation of company policy.

I was talking to him tonight and he said that a company that he frequently works for is going to be bringing out state troopers to perform inspections of people's vehicles to ensure that they are all complying with company policy. I told him that police can't just search your vehicle without some sort of just cause, and was pretty sure that it was not illegal to store a firearm in a personal vehicle regardless of company policy.

However, I am not from Texas and do not know the laws there. I would hope that people would be able to have a firearm for defense when driving on those roads. If anyone has some insight into the legality of this it would be appreciated.
1. Does he hold a Texas CHL?
2. "State troopers" do not work for the oil company.
3. Here is the link to SB321 @ DPS.
http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/82R/billtext/pdf/SB00321F.pdf#navpanes=0

SB-321: Relating to an employee’s transportation and storage of certain firearms or ammunition while on certain property owned or controlled by the employee’s employer.

Bill Summary

Senate Bill 321
Senate Author: Hegar et al.
Effective: 9-1-11
House Sponsor: Kleinschmidt

Senate Bill 321 amends the Government Code to provide for the definition of “premises” for purposes of provisions regarding the rights of employers to prohibit a concealed handgun license holder from carrying a concealed handgun on the premises of a business. Senate Bill 321 amends the Labor Code to prohibit a public or private employer from prohibiting an employee who holds a concealed handgun license issued by the Department of Public Safety and who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm or ammunition from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition the employee is lawfully authorized to possess in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a parking area the employer provides for employees, with certain exceptions. The bill specifies that the prohibition does not prohibit an employer from prohibiting an employee who holds a concealed handgun license, or who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, from possessing a firearm the employee is otherwise authorized by law to possess on the premises of the employer’s business. The bill provides immunity from civil liability for a public or private employer or the employer’s principal, officer, director, employee, or agent for any damages resulting from or arising out of an occurrence involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored in accordance with the bill’s provisions, except in cases of gross negligence, and establishes that such immunity does not limit or alter the personal liability of an individual or employee who engages in certain actions involving a firearm or ammunition.

Senate Bill 321 amends the Government Code to provide for the definition of “premises” for purposes of provisions regarding the rights of employers to prohibit a concealed handgun license holder from carrying a concealed handgun on the premises of a business.

Bill Text

S.B. No. 321 AN ACT relating to an employee’s transportation and storage of certain firearms or ammunition while on certain property owned or controlled by the employee’s employer.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1. Chapter 52, Labor Code, is amended by adding Subchapter G to read as follows:

SUBCHAPTERG.RESTRICTIONS ON PROHIBITING EMPLOYEE TRANSPORTATION OR STORAGE OF CERTAIN FIREARMS OR AMMUNITION

Sec.52.061.RESTRICTION ON PROHIBITING EMPLOYEE ACCESS TO OR STORAGE OF FIREARM OR AMMUNITION. A public or private employer may not prohibit an employee who holds a license to carry a concealed handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition the employee is authorized by law to possess in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area the employer provides for employees.

Sec. 52.062. EXCEPTIONS.

(a) Section 52.061 does not:

(1)authorize a person who holds a license to carry a concealed handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition to possess a firearm or ammunition on any property where the possession of a firearm or ammunition is prohibited by state or federal law; or
(2) apply to:

(A)a vehicle owned or leased by a public or private employer and used by an employee in the course and scope of the employee’s employment, unless the employee is required to transport or store a firearm in the official discharge of the employee’s duties;

(B) a school district;

(C)an open-enrollment charter school, as defined by Section 5.001, Education Code;

(D)a private school, as defined by Section 22.081, Education Code;

(E)property owned or controlled by a person, other than the employer, that is subject to a valid, unexpired oil, gas, or other mineral lease that contains a provision prohibiting the possession of firearms on the property; or

(F)property owned or leased by a chemical manufacturer or oil and gas refiner with an air authorization under Chapter 382, Health and Safety Code, and on which the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage, or transportation of hazardous, combustible, or explosive materials, except in regard to an employee who holds a license to carry a concealed handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, and who stores a firearm or ammunition the employee is authorized by law to possess in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area the employer provides for employees that is outside of a secured and restricted area:

(i) that contains the physical plant;

(ii) that is not open to the public; and

(iii)the ingress into which is constantly monitored by security personnel.

(b)Section 52.061 does not prohibit an employer from prohibiting an employee who holds a license to carry a concealed handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, or who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, from possessing a firearm the employee is otherwise authorized by law to possess on the premises of the employer’s business. In this subsection, “premises” has the meaning assigned by Section 46.035(f)(3), Penal Code.

Sec.52.063.IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL LIABILITY.

(a)Except in cases of gross negligence, a public or private employer, or the employer’s principal, officer, director, employee, or agent, is not liable in a civil action for personal injury, death, property damage, or any other damages resulting from or arising out of an occurrence involving a firearm or ammunition that the employer is required to allow on the employer’s property under this subchapter.

(b)The presence of a firearm or ammunition on an employer’s property under the authority of this subchapter does not by itself constitute a failure by the employer to provide a safe workplace.

(c)For purposes of this section, a public or private employer, or the employer’s principal, officer, director, employee, or agent, does not have a duty:

(1) to patrol, inspect, or secure:

(A)any parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area the employer provides for employees; or

(B)any privately owned motor vehicle located in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area described by Paragraph (A); or

(2)to investigate, confirm, or determine an employee’s compliance with laws related to the ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition or the transportation and storage of a firearm or ammunition.

Sec.52.064.CONSTRUCTION OF PROVISION RELATING TO IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL LIABILITY. Section 52.063 does not limit or alter the personal liability of:

(1)an individual who causes harm or injury by using a firearm or ammunition;

(2)an individual who aids, assists, or encourages another individual to cause harm or injury by using a firearm or ammunition; or

(3)an employee who transports or stores a firearm or ammunition on the property of the employee’s employer but who fails to comply with the requirements of Section 52.061.

SECTION 2. Section 411.203, Government Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 411.203. RIGHTS OF EMPLOYERS.
This subchapter does not prevent or otherwise limit the right of a public or private employer to prohibit persons who are licensed under this subchapter from carrying a concealed handgun on the premises of the business. In this section, “premises” has the meaning assigned by Section 46.035(f)(3), Penal Code.

SECTION 3. The change in law made by this Act applies only to a cause of action that accrues on or after the effective date of this Act. A cause of action that accrues before that date is governed by the law as it existed immediately before the effective date of this Act, and that law is continued in effect for that purpose.

SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2011.

CountGlockulla A few years back Texas had tried passed a law allowing you to keep a handgun in your car even on company premises, however, it did not make it up for vote before the congressional session ended. Unless the law has changed the company can search your brothers car on their property.
Wrong.
See above, its been law since September, 2011.

NavyLCDR
February 10, 2013, 11:19 PM
Texas Senate Bill 321 (“SB 321”) – which Governor Rick Perry signed into law on June 17, 2011, and which goes into effect on September 1, 2011

Do you know what statute that became?

JohnKSa
February 10, 2013, 11:46 PM
The section numbers that were added/modified are in the bill.

Sections 52.061, 52.062, 52.063, 52.064, and 411.203

Section 52 is the Labor Code, 411 is the Government Code

slamfirev10
February 10, 2013, 11:51 PM
is going to be bringing out state troopers to perform inspections of people's vehicles to ensure that they are all complying with company policy.

on duty troopers have better things to do

Double Naught Spy
February 11, 2013, 08:35 AM
They won't be on-duty troopers. They will be off-duty troopers moonlighting just like the officers at my kids' school moonlight in uniform as security for the school.

whatever
February 11, 2013, 09:20 AM
If he is on a rig and the mineral lease on which the rig is drilling has provisions regarding firearms, then the terms of the lease MAY preclude the carrying of firearms on the lease premisis.

All this talk about not consenting to searches is all well and good, but if the employer (or their agent i.e. off duty trooper hired by the company) is doing the search, anyone not consenting to the search can be fired on the spot. Consenting to searches typically only applies to official (i.e. LEO) searches.

Mineral leases are filed of public record. Pull the lease at the county clerk's office and take a look at the ter.s of the lease itself.

alsaqr
February 11, 2013, 09:45 AM
Oklahoma was the first state to have a law allowing guns in locked vehicles in parking lots. Weyerhaeuser in SW OK for years had allowed guns in vehicles in parking lots. Then the plant got a new manager who outlawed guns in vehicles. The company brought in local police and sniffer dogs. The company terminated everyone who had a gun in their vehicle. This brought on a bunch of lawsuits and two OK laws.

The second OK law has been tested in federal court: OK employers may not outlaw guns in locked vehicles in parking lots.

http://workplaceviolencenews.com/?p=1955&upm_export=print

Double_J
February 11, 2013, 08:42 PM
If the officer is OFF-DUTY then he is no different than the average security guard at the mall. He can wear his uniform, and has powers of arrest for STATE LAWS, COUNTY AND CITY LAWS, but otherwise he can not arrest you for violating company policy. I would refuse to allow my vehicle to be searched, and if they fire me then I will go to the local paper/internet/media outlet and make a BIG stink about State Troopers being used to enforce private company policy. Write a letter to the state police commander, state legislature, attorney general, and who ever else you can find and embarrass the trooper, and the company.

This is not an easy fight, but we can not allow the company to rule our life by using the law enforcement agents against us in an unethical fashion. I am by no means a union supporter as I have seen too much negative from them, but I will agree that you will have to stand together to beat a large opponent such as an oil/gas company. If that means forming a picket line, then do it. Walk out on strike, picket, write letters, slow down production, do what is needed to get your point across. I believe it was one of the founding fathers who said we must all hang together or we will all hang separately. The police should NOT be used to intimidate people going into work. Should the company want to search hire a regular security officer, not an off duty law enforcement officer who can project the wrong image to the public.

whatever
February 11, 2013, 09:16 PM
This isn't a company v. Gun owner issue (in this particular employee on a drilling rig case). It is a private property owner (i.e. the landowner who entered into the lease) v. gun owner issue. It is no dofferent than a homeowner forbidding someone from carrying a gun in their house.

If an employee carries a gun on the leased property, assuming the appropriate language in the lease, the lease can terminate and the company could be out tens of millions of dollars (or more).

Picket all you want, but it would be against the property owner not the company/sheriff.

Of course, this all assumes the appropriate lease terms. Do your due diligence to see if it applies.

Skylerbone
February 11, 2013, 10:18 PM
I'd guess the land owner would prefer fewer holes in his fence posts, fewer poached deer and fewer dead roughnecks on his property. As strongly as I feel about the right to carry, it does not trump the right of a private citizen to refuse trespass.

Txhillbilly
February 11, 2013, 10:36 PM
I work in the Oil/Gas industry in Texas.
You cannot carry weapons onto an oil/gas lease period,whether you have a CHL or not.
Believe me,with the hours we work,and the stress that goes with most of the jobs out here,the last thing you want is someone loosing their cool and shooting a firearm around one of these wells.
I carry,but my vehicle is parked at our company lot where the Oil field law doesn't apply,but I don't carry out in the field.

While some might not agree with this,99.9% of the people that work in the oil patch do,and I'm one of them.

golfer_ray
February 12, 2013, 01:27 AM
Oklahoma was the first state to have a law allowing guns in locked vehicles in parking lots. Weyerhaeuser in SW OK for years had allowed guns in vehicles in parking lots. Then the plant got a new manager who outlawed guns in vehicles. The company brought in local police and sniffer dogs. The company terminated everyone who had a gun in their vehicle. This brought on a bunch of lawsuits and two OK laws.

The second OK law has been tested in federal court: OK employers may not outlaw guns in locked vehicles in parking lots.

http://workplaceviolencenews.com/?p=1955&upm_export=print
In my OKC CC class, I brought up the question if company policy forbids firearms in employee cars in the parking lot, but one has a cc permit, which prevails. The attorney stated that your car is considered your personal property, so your firearm is covered.
Although we may hate Texas in football, they are kindred brothers in many ways and, if anything, more liberal in their interpretation of the law than we are.

vtail
February 12, 2013, 02:48 AM
Oklahoma was the first state to have a law allowing guns in locked vehicles in parking lots. Weyerhaeuser in SW OK for years had allowed guns in vehicles in parking lots. Then the plant got a new manager who outlawed guns in vehicles. The company brought in local police and sniffer dogs. The company terminated everyone who had a gun in their vehicle. This brought on a bunch of lawsuits and two OK laws.

The second OK law has been tested in federal court: OK employers may not outlaw guns in locked vehicles in parking lots.

http://workplaceviolencenews.com/?p=1955&upm_export=print
alsaqr:

But does this allow a teacher to leave a loaded gun in his car in the school parking lot?

chris in va
February 12, 2013, 02:53 AM
Alright, so park just past the property and walk to the site. :cool:

rhinoh
February 12, 2013, 04:31 AM
Sounds great until you realize that it might be miles from the "allowed" area....

Double Naught Spy
February 12, 2013, 09:10 AM
If the officer is OFF-DUTY then he is no different than the average security guard at the mall. He can wear his uniform, and has powers of arrest for STATE LAWS, COUNTY AND CITY LAWS, but otherwise he can not arrest you for violating company policy. I would refuse to allow my vehicle to be searched, and if they fire me then I will go to the local paper/internet/media outlet and make a BIG stink about State Troopers being used to enforce private company policy. Write a letter to the state police commander, state legislature, attorney general, and who ever else you can find and embarrass the trooper, and the company.

You can do that, but it won't embarrass anybody as it is SOP for many companies and it is a practice and one filled by LEOs across the state. The only person being embarrassed would be you. The company would like the press because it will show the other employees how serious they are about compliance and enforcement. You will be doing the company a favor.

alsaqr
February 12, 2013, 09:23 AM
Not sure about TX but most of the drill hands i know in OK have rifles in their trucks. Drillers are sinking a well on the place adjacent to one of my properties thats over-run with hogs. They renovated the old irrigation well on my place for their rig water. Those guys have killed several hogs.

Art Eatman
February 12, 2013, 01:24 PM
If oilfield operations are exempt from the restriction against searches--and it appears that they are--then it's up to an individual to decide for himself how to deal with it.

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