I represent Doug and Linda Gray, a husband and wife who were both employed by the Walt Disney World Company. ...The Grays had to begin their commute before sunrise, and had to travel through some less than safe areas. In fact, they had been accosted on their commute to work in the past. They contacted law enforcement about this and were advised that they should purchase a firearm for their own protection during their commute. Based on this advice, Mr. Gray purchased a revolver to protect he and his wife. When the Grays arrived at work, the revolver was locked in their vehicle.This same basic issue has come up repeatedly. Weyerhauser fired a dozen employees for possessing firearms in their vehicles, and in response to this the Oklahoma State Legislature passed a law forbidding employers to prevent employees from having legally owned firearms in their vehicles. (Here's my post on that story.)...Just 17 days before their 10th anniversary of employment at Disney, they were both terminated. While Mrs. Gray was being asked about an absence from work, she responded that her husband was unable to attend, and she didn't feel safe traveling into work without him. Upon further questioning, Mrs. Gray revealed that Mr. Gray had the firearm in their vehicle for their protection. Disney had the vehicle searched, and the firearm was found, locked in the vehicle where the Grays indicated it was. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gray were terminated. Additionally, Disney had the Orange County Sheriffs issue a trespass warning against Mr. and Mrs. Gray, so that neither could step foot on any Disney property again.
I think employers should not be able to inquire about the contents of nor search employee vehicles. When you drive your car on a public road, police officers do not have the right to search your vehicle without either a search warrant or some evidence that your vehicle contains an illegal item (i.e. probable cause). Under the law your automobile is treated much like your home or your clothing in terms of privacy and the search rights.
I have often heard people say that the private property rights of the employer should allow the employer to make any rules they like about what vehicles can park on their property. I strongly disagree. An employer should have the right to forbid people to enter their property, but they should not have the right to violate your privacy as a condition of granting you access. Allowing employers to search private vehicles is a violation of privacy similar in spirit (albeit not as traumatic), as allowing employers to conduct daily body cavity searches. After all, an employee could hide a folding knife, a home-made hand grenade, poison, drugs or other potentially dangerous items in an orifice.
Just how far are people willing to let employers violate the privacy of employees? Could an officer of the company require all female employees to bare their breasts to them so that the officer can verify that they don't have a small Seecamp or a Bobcat hidden inside their bras? Could an employer demand the right feel the breasts of busty female employees to try and determine if their allegedly silicone implants and gel filled bras might instead be hi-tech liquid explosives? (TSA agents already have the right to do this at airport security checkpoints.) Can an employer randomly squeeze the crotch of male employees or put their hands up women's skirts to make sure they aren't wearing Thunderwear holsters?
If an employer can forbid employees to have legal firearms in their vehicles, I don't see why they couldn't legally ban any other item they don't like. With this crazy logic, a Christian Scientist employer could forbid medicine in cars, an atheist employer could forbid bibles and a censor-happy employer could forbid "immoral" books and music. Perhaps a Catholic employer could even forbid contraceptives and copies of The Da Vinci Code.
I say that the 4th Amendment should protect employees from such unreasonable searches and bans:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.