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
Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

News  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

Levi Strauss & Co. established its brand in the mid-19th century by selling durable clothing to working-class Americans. As Levi’s signature jeans gained popularity amongst a wider set in the middle of the last century, ...

Surprise: Physician Group Rehashes Same Tired Gun Control Policies

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Surprise: Physician Group Rehashes Same Tired Gun Control Policies

Everyone has hobbies. Some doctors’ collective hobby is opining on firearms policy. Half of the articles in the “Latest from Annals” email from the Annals of Internal Medicine journal are related to firearms. The most prominent of these ...

NRA Challenges Constitutional Violations in Initiative 1639

News  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

NRA Challenges Constitutional Violations in Initiative 1639

The NRA was joined by the Second Amendment Foundation in filing a lawsuit challenging gun control measures recently passed in Washington ballot initiative I-1639.

Missing the Marx: Gun Control’s Future is … Communism?

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Missing the Marx: Gun Control’s Future is … Communism?

After every high profile crime committed with a firearm of any sort, there are always calls for gun control. But one particular proposal this week managed to distinguish itself amid the usual din, if only ...

Midterm Elections Offer Motivation to Continue the Fight For Our Rights

News  

Friday, November 9, 2018

Midterm Elections Offer Motivation to Continue the Fight For Our Rights

The votes have all been cast in the 2018 midterm elections. And while the counting and recounting is still under way in some places, the overall picture that has emerged soundly refutes the breathless media narrative of ...

Former ATF Agent Pulls Mask Off Giffords’s Plans for Federal AR-15 Registration

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Former ATF Agent Pulls Mask Off Giffords’s Plans for Federal AR-15 Registration

In an odd turn, just before Halloween one prominent gun control group briefly got out of costume. When former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly launched Americans for Responsible Solutions (now named Giffords) in ...

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.

Videos Reveal Arizona’s Sinema and Florida’s Gillum Downplay Anti-gun Positions

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Videos Reveal Arizona’s Sinema and Florida’s Gillum Downplay Anti-gun Positions

In the last decade, gun control groups have tried to get more sophisticated with how they market their unpopular ideas. Some gun control advocates have gone so far as to partner with high-profile public relations firms to ...

Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams Reiterates Support for Semi-automatic Ban

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams Reiterates Support for Semi-automatic Ban

During a recent segment on ABC’s The View, Stacey Abrams reiterated her support for a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. During an interview with the candidate, host Meghan McCain, daughter of longtime U.S. Senator John McCain, ...

President’s Column | Your Vote Outweighs Their Millions: Make Your Voice Heard Nov. 6

News  

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

President’s Column | Your Vote Outweighs Their Millions: Make Your Voice Heard Nov. 6

My fellow NRA members, we stand at the edge of the precipice of one of the most important elections of our lives. That is the reality we face, and we face it just days from ...

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.