Use of force, especially related to the use of firearms, in the workplace is a confusing and widely misunderstood area of the law. The following hopes to clarify some common definitions and rules of law.

The Use of deadly force in Ohio is an affirmative defense which the person accused in the use of force must prove. The accused must prove by preponderance of evidence that they “1) were not at fault in creating the situation giving rise to the affray; 2) had bona fide belief that [they were] in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that [their] only means of escape from such danger was the use of such force; and 3) did not violate any duty to retreat or avoid the danger”. This means that if the defense is asserted and allowed by the court the accused must prove that their behavior was in conformance with the law. One factor that can change the analysis is if the accused was in their residence, motor vehicle or an immediate family member’s vehicle, then the Castle Doctrine applies. This doctrine stands for the notion that the person’s home is their castle and there is nowhere to retreat before using deadly force. If the doctrine applies it is the one occasion where the basic self-defense deadly force analysis changes. If the accused is in their residence, their motor vehicle or that of an immediate family member there is no duty to retreat prior to using deadly force to defend themselves or another. In Ohio, one can defend another if that person would have been justified in defending themselves by use of deadly force. Thought the Castle Doctrine does not specifically apply to a place of business, there is no duty to retreat from your place of business. Regardless of the Castle Doctrine and the absence of the requirement to retreat in your place of business, the first two prongs of the definition of the defense above must be met to prevail in its use.

If one chooses to carry a firearm to work in violation of the policies and procedures of the company that person can be fired. This applies whether the person has a concealed carry license or not. However, if carrying firearms is prohibited by the employer then cannot prohibit the storage of same in the vehicle of the employee. The employee must ensure that 1) the firearm and all ammunition remains inside the persons privately owned vehicle while the person is physically inside the vehicle or locked within the glove box, trunk or other enclosed compartment in the privately-owned vehicle …2) the vehicle is in an area where it is otherwise permitted to be”. O.R.C. 2923.1210. If the employee does not follow these regulations the employer is not in violation of the rights of the employee in taking action.

If an employer posts “Do Not Carry” signs in conspicuous places, then the employee is prohibited from doing so. There are places where concealed carry is prohibited by statute (law). These include churches and police stations.

Adapted from Ohio Lawyer Vol 32, No. 3, Page 28