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
“[A]ll We Need You to Do is Give us the Gun”: U.K. Launches National Firearm Surrender Campaign

News  

Monday, May 23, 2022

“[A]ll We Need You to Do is Give us the Gun”: U.K. Launches National Firearm Surrender Campaign

On March 12, a two-week campaign was launched in the United Kingdom to encourage subjects of Her Majesty the Queen to surrender firearms, ammunition, weapons, and any other object even vaguely reminiscent of a gun ...

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

News  

Thursday, May 12, 2022

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

Former President Donald J. Trump will headline the 2022 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on May 27, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

Choke Point “Lite”

News  

Monday, May 23, 2022

Choke Point “Lite”

Ten years ago, the Obama Administration introduced “Operation Choke Point,” a program to weaponize the banking industry and financial service providers against certain lawful businesses and merchants. Implemented by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and ...

ATF Partners with Anti-gun Researchers to Expand Agency’s Power

News  

Monday, May 23, 2022

ATF Partners with Anti-gun Researchers to Expand Agency’s Power

On May 17, the Department of Justice announced the release of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives publication titled the National Firearms in Commerce and Trafficking Assessment (NFCTA). The report is the result of the ...

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

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.

NRA Statement Ahead of 2022 NRAAM

News  

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

NRA Statement Ahead of 2022 NRAAM

The National Rifle Association released the following statement on Wednesday, May 25

New Jersey: “Mandatory Jail” Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Thursday

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

New Jersey: “Mandatory Jail” Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Thursday

Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee is scheduled to consider S.513, legislation which would create a rebuttable presumption of no bail for gun offenses.

Hunter Biden Incident Shows that Gun Laws are for the Little People

News  

Monday, April 5, 2021

Hunter Biden Incident Shows that Gun Laws are for the Little People

There is a central hypocrisy at the heart of the gun control effort.

California: Anti-Gun Bills Eligible for Floor Votes

Saturday, May 21, 2022

California: Anti-Gun Bills Eligible for Floor Votes

On Thursday, both the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees took up their suspense files prior to the fiscal deadline, passing a number of anti-gun bills and one pro-hunting bill. These bills will now be eligible ...

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.