If a company prohibits their employees from carrying a firearm while on their property, are they legally liable for the safety of their employees in an active shooter situation?

If they refuse to allow their employees to protect themselves, should the company not then be required to protect them? If not, why?

Example: I have a concealed pistol license (CPL) which, in my open-carry state, allows me to carry a pistol in most public places and private businesses unless prohibited by law (the Constitutionality of which is another debate) or designated by the business owner as "gun free." My employer has specific rules against employees bringing weapons of any kind into the building or even into their parking lot.

If there is a violent situation at work, such as a mass shooter, and I get injured by that shooter, is there any recourse to be taken against my employer for failing to protect their employees from shooter themselves?

  • 7
    Let's turn that around, lets say the employer openly allowed guns on the property and one of those CPL holders decides to shoot a coworker in an argument over TPS reports. Is the employer liable because they had the ability to restrict guns but did not?
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 2:33
  • I absolutely see that side of the story as well!
    – Zephyr
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 2:36

1 Answer 1


Employees of an employer aren't governed by a fault based liability regime in the United States (subject to some usually quite narrow exceptions that vary from state to state, which sometimes also limit tort liability).

Instead, employers are required to have worker's compensation insurance policies in place, in exchange for not having any tort liability whatsoever to employees. (An employer who doesn't have worker's compensation in place is strictly liable to the worker for all injuries suffered by an employee whatsoever at work, without the prohibition of a worker's compensation insurance policy plan on paying things like pain and suffering damages as well.)

Worker's compensation insurance provides coverage (in principle) for all medical costs incurred, all lost wages, and in the event of a death support for dependents if any and a modest death benefit sufficient to provide a funeral if there are no dependents. Often, in practice, worker's compensation insurance payments tend to be rather stingy.

One of the most common big worker's compensation claims these days, especially in office and retail workplaces, is for employees who are seriously injured or killed in crimes at work.

Often, a worker's compensation insurer will give an employer a discount if they have a "gun free" zone, because, statistically, doing so greatly reduces the average amount of harm experienced by employees at work. The presence of employees with guns in the workplace, as an actuarial matter, greatly increases the insurance company's risk of having to pay claims.

  • "employers are required to have worker's compensation insurance policies in place" This is true of most employers, but not universal. For example in Wisconsin if I have 3 employees or less I am exempt from the requirement to carry workers comp insurance.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 2:36
  • @RonBeyer Worker's compensation is a state by state system that isn't entirely uniform, and without knowing the state involved it is impossible to be completely precise and cover every exception, but suffice it to say that something on the order of 98% of U.S. employees are covered by worker's compensation systems. Often self-employed people are exempt from the requirement as the boss has no one to blame but himself. Worker's compensation issues are one of the most important reasons to properly classify someone as an employee v. an independent contractor.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 2:39
  • Thank you @ohwilleke. I don't know why I never considered worker's compensation. So in smaller businesses that don't carry that insurance, I take it the employer is assuming the risk themselves?
    – Zephyr
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 3:05
  • 3
    @MaxA. They aren't taking a costly political stance, they are taking a stance that increases their profits because the discount provided is less than the actuarial value of the reduced risk.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Oct 18, 2019 at 1:25
  • 4
    @MaxA You can use insurance mathematics and statistics about payed out claims to come up with the appropiate insurance rates. It is an exact science, as opposed to politics. Your "common sense" might not be in line with the empirical evidence, i.e. in reality more guns provide less safety. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 11:18

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