Mississippi is a hire- or fire-at-will state. Employers or employees may terminate their relationship at will, for any or no reason. There are very few exceptions to this legal doctrine, all of which must be codified by the state legislature. The Magnolia State legislature decreed that an employer may not fire an employee for storing his or her firearms in their locked vehicle on company property. Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation ignored the state law . . .
and fired Robert Swindol, for bringing a firearm to work. Mr. Swindol sued, and lost. The case was appealed to the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit noted that the company violated Mississippi Code Section 45-9-55(1), which provides:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) of this section, 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 . . .
It also is “undisputed that Aurora had a firearms policy that is inconsistent with [Section 45-9-55].”
As there was no case law on the subject in Mississippi, the Fifth Circuit referred the case to the Mississippi Supreme Court. That court found that the legislature was empowered to protect the individuals exercise of Second Amendment rights. The Court also found that the Constitution and statutes of Mississippi protected the right to keep and bear arms, including within a persons’ vehicle on private property. In conclusion, the Court wrote:
While Mississippi is an at-will employment state, that doctrine is not absolute. This Court repeatedly has stated that the doctrine must yield to express legislative action and/or prohibitions found in federal or state law. We find that such “express legislative action” and “state law prohibitions” exist here. We also find that Subsection (5) does not protect Aurora from liability under the facts of this case. As such, we answer the certified question affirmatively.
While seemingly obvious and incremental, the case adds to the growing number of cases that find that state governments have solid and presumtive reasons for protecting their residents’ right to keep and bear arms.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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