Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Utah Supreme Court: Employees Cannot Be Fired for Self-defense

Friday, September 25, 2015

Utah Supreme Court: Employees Cannot Be Fired for Self-defense

Threats to Second Amendment liberties come in many forms. According to the so-called “state action” doctrine, only those acting on behalf of a public entity can actually violate constitutional rights. Nevertheless, many private actors can also interfere with the fundamental right of self-defense by establishing their own antigun policies and practices. Your NRA has therefore supported legislation to prevent gratuitous antigun discrimination in the private sector, including by doctors, employers, insurance companies, and businesses that offer public parking. After all, the right to keep and bear arms would not mean much if its exercise prevented law-abiding people from availing themselves of the necessities of modern life.

Last week, the Utah Supreme Court issued a strong endorsement of self-defense as public policy in a claim arising out of private action. In Ray v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the court held that an employee’s right of self-defense trumps an employer’s right to fire an employee, including an employee who can usually be terminated without specific cause (an “at-will” employee.)

The case involved two incidents where a total of five Wal-Mart employees were fired after using force – in self-defense – against armed shoplifters.  In the first case, three employees at the Layton, Utah, store confronted a customer who hid a laptop computer in his pants. After employees escorted him to the store’s security office, the shoplifter drew a gun and grabbed one of the employees, pressing the gun to his back.  The other employees grabbed the man, seized his gun, and held him for the police.

In the second event, two employees at a West Valley City, Utah, store grabbed a shoplifter after she tried to run away.  She pulled a pocketknife and threatened to stab the employees unless they released her. Afraid of what would happen if they let go, they kept hold while a customer helped grab the knife.

In both instances, Wal-Mart fired the employees for violating company policy that employees disengage, withdraw, and contact police if a shoplifter has a weapon, threatens to use a weapon, or becomes violent. The employees sued, claiming their termination violated their fundamental rights.  The Utah Supreme Court ruled in their favor.

The court found the firings violated the exercise of a “legal right or privilege” and that the right to self-defense was so substantial and fundamental that there was “virtually no question as to [its] importance to the public good.”

The court referred to two provisions of the Utah Constitution in its ruling.  First was Article I, Section 1, which provides, “All men have the inherent and inalienable right to enjoy and defend their lives and liberties.” The court also referenced Article I, Section 6, which states: “The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed….”

Additionally, the court cited state laws and court decisions upholding the right of self-defense, including Utah’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

The court limited its ruling to situations where an employee reasonably believes that force is necessary to defend against an imminent threat of serious bodily harm and there is no opportunity to withdraw.  The case was returned to the trial court to determine if these two limitations applied.

While limited in scope, the court’s decision provides strong vindication for the ongoing importance of self-defense as public policy. The principle the court articulated is equally applicable to many other private forms of discrimination against those who exercise this right and will hopefully prove influential. As always, your NRA remains committed to protecting your rights against all infringements, whatever their source.

TRENDING NOW
Washington: NRA Files Legal Challenge Against Misleading Ballot Title for Gun Control Initiative

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Washington: NRA Files Legal Challenge Against Misleading Ballot Title for Gun Control Initiative

Yesterday, NRA filed a legal challenge in the Thurston County Superior Court objecting to the misleading and inadequate ballot title for Initiative 1639, which seeks to further restrict the Second Amendment rights of Washington's law-abiding citizens.  The Thurston ...

Hard Times for Dick's as Second Amendment Supporters Respond to Company’s Anti-Gun Bent

Hunting  

News  

Friday, May 11, 2018

Hard Times for Dick's as Second Amendment Supporters Respond to Company’s Anti-Gun Bent

We have recently been reporting on the bizarre anti-gun activism of one of the nation’s larger firearm retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods and its affiliated Field & Stream stores. First, the company announced it would stop selling most centerfire semi-automatic ...

Sorry, Alyssa, But We're Glad We Came

News  

Friday, May 11, 2018

Sorry, Alyssa, But We're Glad We Came

You likely recall we mentioned a new anti-gun organization recently formed, which was billed as the brainchild of actress Alyssa Milano.  You may also recall that we reported her group, NoRA, had made the vaguely threatening proclamation, ...

Massachusetts: Anti-Second Amendment Bills Rolled into Committee Substitute

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Massachusetts: Anti-Second Amendment Bills Rolled into Committee Substitute

On May 23rd, the Massachusetts state House of Representatives will be voting on House Bill 4517, which would allow firearms to be seized from individuals following baseless accusations without proper due process.

Anti-Gun Democrat Proposes Banning Semi-Autos and Going After "Resisters"

News  

Friday, May 11, 2018

Anti-Gun Democrat Proposes Banning Semi-Autos and Going After "Resisters"

The headline of the USA Today op-ed said it all. Anti-gun Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) last week advocated for legislation to ban an as-yet undetermined class of semi-automatic firearms and to “go after resisters” who refuse to relinquish their ...

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

ALERT! Can't Wait for Your YETI Cover Up Stickers?

Approximately 100,000 free stickers, proudly displaying the message "I STAND WITH THE NRA FOUNDATION," were distributed at the NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas last week.  These stickers were designed to cover up the YETI ...

News  

Friday, April 27, 2018

NRA Statement on Yeti

The National Rifle Association released the following statement from in response to Yeti’s inaccurate statements:

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Swiss Gun Rights Supporters Refuse to Capitulate to International Gun Controllers

News  

Friday, May 11, 2018

Swiss Gun Rights Supporters Refuse to Capitulate to International Gun Controllers

As NRA-ILA reported on April 27, peaceful Switzerland is in the crosshairs of international and domestic gun control advocates who are intent on abolishing the idyllic nation’s tradition of an armed citizenry. Using the 2017 changes to ...

Illinois: Gun Control Bills to be Heard This Week

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Illinois: Gun Control Bills to be Heard This Week

The Illinois state House of Representatives can take action any day on House Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 2580 to expand the 72 hour waiting period to all firearms.  On May 24th, the Illinois state ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.