Firearm statute trumps employer's no-guns policy

An employer didn't want employees keeping firearms in their vehicles in the employee parking lot. A Mississippi statute says employers can't have a policy prohibiting a person from storing a firearm in a locked vehicle in a parking lot. Can the boss fire the employee anyhow?

Robert Swindol worked for Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation in Columbus, Mississippi. In May 2013, he parked his truck in Aurora’s employee parking lot with his firearm locked inside. Aurora’s management learned of the firearm and fired Swindol later that day for violating company policy prohibiting firearms on its property. Swindol sued for wrongful discharge, and won. Swindol v. Aurora Flight Sciences (5th Cir 08/08/2016).

Here's the Mississippi statute:

a public or private employer may not establish, maintain, or enforce any policy or rule that has the effect of prohibiting a person from transporting or storing a firearm in a locked vehicle in any parking lot, parking garage, or other designated parking area.

The 5th Circuit asked the Mississippi Supreme Court whether this statute can make an employer liable for wrongful discharge, and that court said "yes." So, applying Mississippi law, the 5th Circuit held that Swindol's case can go to trial.

Mississippi is an "at-will" state, and this statute creates an exception. 

To state the obvious: Legal rules on this fact pattern will vary from state to state.

[Other discussions of this case: Two Recent Federal Court Decisions Explore the Limits of the At-Will Employment DoctrineFifth Circuit decision finds new exception to at-will employment: employee gun rights.]