Your job or your life? No so fast, the Utah Supreme Court declared in a ruling Friday that says employers cannot fire workers who fight back when they are in imminent danger of harm from others. The decision — from a case in which Wal-Mart employees were fired for wrestling with shoplifting customers who brandished weapons — expands the circumstances under which Utah law protects at-will employees from losing their jobs.”We hold that Utah law does not require employees to make that choice,” the court ruled in a 4-1 decision. The ruling sends the case back to federal court, where five employees, formerly of Wal-Mart stores in Layton and West Valley City, had sued the giant retailer. Wal-Mart had fired them for violating a policy that requires them to withdraw from potentially violent situations and call police. A sixth ex-employee sued after being fired over a confrontation with another worker’s angry husband
This is a decision with huge implications if it goes nationwide. An employer not being able to say “You are not allowed to defend yourself while under my roof” could be the first step to get rid of those pesky HR rules about no weapons in the workplace. IANAL but the only way I can see a company bypass that is presenting such a safety system in place that would appear to be reasonable and only if that system is never violated by somebody intent on committing a life-threatening crime and the company is willing to spend that money and deal with what will be obvious TSA-checkpoint-like treatment of their employees. Somehow the idea that a 16-year-old cashier at McDonald’s has to be fondled by the manager before punching in, may not resonate with HQ and the Lawyers. And certainly a manager will not be willing to catch a rap for child molestation just because is the approved safety procedure to forbid self-defense in the workplace.
This thing is has legs…long ones. We’ll see 5 years down the road where it takes us.