2020 Georgia Code
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 11 - Offenses Against Public Order and Safety
Article 4 - Dangerous Instrumentalities and Practices
Part 3 - Carrying and Possession of Firearms
§ 16-11-135. Public or Private Employer's Parking Lots; Right of Privacy in Vehicles in Employer's Parking Lot or Invited Guests on Lot; Severability; Rights of Action
- Except as provided in this Code section, no private or public employer, including the state and its political subdivisions, shall establish, maintain, or enforce any policy or rule that has the effect of allowing such employer or its agents to search the locked privately owned vehicles of employees or invited guests on the employer's parking lot and access thereto.
- Except as provided in this Code section, no private or public employer, including the state and its political subdivisions, shall condition employment upon any agreement by a prospective employee that prohibits an employee from entering the parking lot and access thereto when the employee's privately owned motor vehicle contains a firearm or ammunition, or both, that is locked out of sight within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or area within such privately owned motor vehicle, provided that any applicable employees possess a Georgia weapons carry license.
- Subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply:
- To searches by certified law enforcement officers pursuant to valid search warrants or valid warrantless searches based upon probable cause under exigent circumstances;
- To vehicles owned or leased by an employer;
- To any situation in which a reasonable person would believe that accessing a locked vehicle of an employee is necessary to prevent an immediate threat to human health, life, or safety; or
- When an employee consents to a search of his or her locked privately owned vehicle by licensed private security officers for loss prevention purposes based on probable cause that the employee unlawfully possesses employer property.
- Subsections (a) and (b) of this Code section shall not apply:
- To an employer providing applicable employees with a secure parking area which restricts general public access through the use of a gate, security station, security officers, or other similar means which limit public access into the parking area, provided that any employer policy allowing vehicle searches upon entry shall be applicable to all vehicles entering the property and applied on a uniform and frequent basis;
- To any penal institution, correctional institution, detention facility, jail, or similar place of confinement or confinement alternative;
- To facilities associated with electric generation owned or operated by a public utility;
- To any United States Department of Defense contractor, if such contractor operates any facility on or contiguous with a United States military base or installation or within one mile of an airport;
- To an employee who is restricted from carrying or possessing a firearm on the employer's premises due to a completed or pending disciplinary action;
- Where transport of a firearm on the premises of the employer is prohibited by state or federal law or regulation;
- To parking lots contiguous to facilities providing natural gas transmission, liquid petroleum transmission, water storage and supply, and law enforcement services determined to be so vital to the State of Georgia, by a written determination of the Georgia Department of Homeland Security, that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on public health or safety; or
- To any area used for parking on a temporary basis.
- No employer, property owner, or property owner's agent shall be held liable in any criminal or civil action for damages resulting from or arising out of an occurrence involving the transportation, storage, possession, or use of a firearm, including, but not limited to, the theft of a firearm from an employee's automobile, pursuant to this Code section unless such employer commits a criminal act involving the use of a firearm or unless the employer knew that the person using such firearm would commit such criminal act on the employer's premises. Nothing contained in this Code section shall create a new duty on the part of the employer, property owner, or property owner's agent. An employee at will shall have no greater interest in employment created by this Code section and shall remain an employee at will.
- In any action relating to the enforcement of any right or obligation under this Code section, an employer, property owner, or property owner's agent's efforts to comply with other applicable federal, state, or local safety laws, regulations, guidelines, or ordinances shall be a complete defense to any employer, property owner, or property owner's agent's liability.
- In any action brought against an employer, employer's agent, property owner, or property owner's agent relating to the criminal use of firearms in the workplace, the plaintiff shall be liable for all legal costs of such employer, employer's agent, property owner, or property owner's agent if such action is concluded in such employer, employer's agent, property owner, or property owner's agent's favor.
- This Code section shall not be construed so as to require an employer, property owner, or property owner's agent to implement any additional security measures for the protection of employees, customers, or other persons. Implementation of remedial security measures to provide protection to employees, customers, or other persons shall not be admissible in evidence to show prior negligence or breach of duty of an employer, property owner, or property owner's agent in any action against such employer, its officers or shareholders, or property owners.
- All actions brought based upon a violation of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be brought exclusively by the Attorney General.
- In the event that subsection (e) of this Code section is declared or adjudged by any court to be invalid or unconstitutional for any reason, the remaining portions of this Code section shall be invalid and of no further force or effect. The General Assembly declares that it would not have enacted the remaining provisions of this Code section if it had known that such portion hereof would be declared or adjudged invalid or unconstitutional.
- Nothing in this Code section shall restrict the rights of private property owners or persons in legal control of property through a lease, a rental agreement, a contract, or any other agreement to control access to such property. When a private property owner or person in legal control of property through a lease, a rental agreement, a contract, or any other agreement is also an employer, his or her rights as a private property owner or person in legal control of property shall govern.
(Code 1981, §16-11-135, enacted by Ga. L. 2008, p. 1199, § 7/HB 89; Ga. L. 2009, p. 8, § 16/SB 46; Ga. L. 2010, p. 963, § 1-9/SB 308; Ga. L. 2015, p. 805, § 7/HB 492; Ga. L. 2016, p. 443, § 13-3/SB 367.)
The 2016 amendment, effective July 1, 2016, deleted "diversion center," following "detention facility," in paragraph (d)(2).Editor's notes.
- Ga. L. 2008, p. 1199, § 1/HB 89, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "This Act shall be known and may be cited as the 'Business Security and Employee Privacy Act.' "
Ga. L. 2010, p. 963, § 3-1/SB 308, not codified by the General Assembly, provides, in part, that the amendment of this Code section shall apply to all offenses committed on and after June 4, 2010, and shall not affect any prosecutions for acts occurring before June 4, 2010, and shall not act as an abatement of any such prosecution.Law reviews.
- For survey article on labor and employment law, see 60 Mercer L. Rev. 217 (2008). For article, "Georgia's 'Bring Your Gun to Work' Law May Not Have the Firepower to Trouble Georgia Employers After All," see 14 (No. 7) Ga. State Bar J. 12 (2009). For article, "Crimes and Offenses," see 27 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 131 (2011). For article on the 2016 amendment of this Code section, see 33 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 139 (2016). For annual survey on labor and employment law, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 141 (2017). For annual survey on labor and employment law, see 70 Mercer L. Rev. 125 (2018). For annual survey on labor and employment law, see 71 Mercer L. Rev. 137 (2019).
- Under the plain language of O.C.G.A. § 16-11-135(e), the employer could not be held liable for the firearm-related injury the lab technician suffered as a result of the employee's negligence which caused the employee's firearm to discharge while the employee attempted to clear the firearm, injuring the technician.
In a suit by a shooting victim against an employee (who was making a call at a customer's when the employee accidentally shot the victim) and the employee's employer, O.C.G.A. § 16-11-135(e) of the Business Security and Employee Privacy Act did not grant the employer immunity from firearm-related tort liability. Because the vehicle used was not an employee-owned vehicle, the employee did not enter the employer's parking lot, and the incident occurred at the customer's premises, immunity did not apply. Lucas v. Beckman Coulter, Inc., 303 Ga. 261, 811 S.E.2d 369 (2018).
Cited in Georgiacarry.Org, Inc. v. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc., 299 Ga. 26, 785 S.E.2d 874 (2016).