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
Alabama: Important Lifetime Carry Permit Legislation Introduced

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Alabama: Important Lifetime Carry Permit Legislation Introduced

Today, January 22nd, legislation was introduced in the Alabama Legislature to create a new lifetime carry permit for state residents.

Bloomberg Bought Virginia Legislators Introduce Confiscatory Gun Ban

News  

Monday, November 25, 2019

Bloomberg Bought Virginia Legislators Introduce Confiscatory Gun Ban

Michael Bloomberg’s bought and paid for Virginia legislators have wasted no time introducing legislation that would make the Old Dominion’s gun laws worse than those of the billionaire’s home state of New York.

Bloomberg Dismisses Texas Hero, Insists It Wasn’t His “Job” to Have a Gun or Decide to Shoot

News  

Monday, January 6, 2020

Bloomberg Dismisses Texas Hero, Insists It Wasn’t His “Job” to Have a Gun or Decide to Shoot

Jack Wilson – a 71-year-old congregant of the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Tex. – is a hero to most Americans. When a deranged man savagely murdered two of Mr. Wilson’s fellow ...

Washington: Mag Ban & Other Bills Heading to Senate Floor

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Washington: Mag Ban & Other Bills Heading to Senate Floor

On January 23rd, the Washington Senate Law & Justice Committee approved three anti-gun bills, among them Senate Bill 6077 to ban most standard capacity magazines. These bills are now headed to the Rules Committee awaiting being pulled ...

New Hampshire: Bill to Shut Down Shooting Ranges Set for Committee Hearing

Thursday, January 16, 2020

New Hampshire: Bill to Shut Down Shooting Ranges Set for Committee Hearing

On January 23rd, the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 469, sponsored by Senator Jeanne Dietsch (D – District 9), at 10:00 AM in Room 100 of the State ...

California: Firearm & Ammo Tax Bill Returns

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

California: Firearm & Ammo Tax Bill Returns

On Thursday, January 23, the Assembly Appropriations Committee has scheduled Assembly Bill 18, a returning anti-gun measure that was sent to the committee suspense filed last year.    

Virginia Gov. Northam Wants Millions in Tax Money to Ban Guns and Jail Gun Owners!

News  

Monday, January 6, 2020

Virginia Gov. Northam Wants Millions in Tax Money to Ban Guns and Jail Gun Owners!

In recent weeks NRA-ILA informed Virginia gun owners about gun control funding included in the state budget bill. The budget legislation, HB30, included a $250,000 appropriation to the Corrections Special Reserve Fund in order to provide for the ...

Virginia Senate Passes Three Gun Control Bills - Committee Advances a Fourth

News  

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Virginia Senate Passes Three Gun Control Bills - Committee Advances a Fourth

Last week, the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee sent four gun control bills to the full chamber. The measures included an attack on the state firearms preemption statute and Right-to-Carry permit holders (SB35), a one-handgun-a-month bill ...

Nebraska: Anti-Gun Lawmakers Readying Action on “Red Flag” Firearm Seizure Bill

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Nebraska: Anti-Gun Lawmakers Readying Action on “Red Flag” Firearm Seizure Bill

“Red Flag” Firearm Seizure Legislation, Legislative Bill 58, is currently awaiting action in the Judiciary Committee. 

Sorry Shannon, But Those “Random Civilians” Are What Are Known As NRA Members

News  

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sorry Shannon, But Those “Random Civilians” Are What Are Known As NRA Members

We were well aware that after New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg spent a cool $2.5 million on his latest acquisition, majority control of the Virginia General Assembly, law-abiding gun owners in The Old Dominion would see an onslaught of legislation ...

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.