|Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer|
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Oklahoma Gun Law Case and the Law of Unintended Consequences
Section (1) is known as the general duty clause and (2) the specific duty clause. The latter leads to literally thousands of pages of regulations that specify detailed rules on everything from shoring of ditches to lockout prevention.
The district court held that it was the general duty clause that preempted the Oklahoma gun statute. Although credit has to be given to the creativity of employers' counsel for the argument, my first thought when I heard the grounds for the decision was how such a ruling could increase exposure to OSHA violations for other employers. For some general views on how the general duty clause works in the real world see Workplace Safety is a Shared Responsibility from Chemical Processing.com or Using the General Duty Clause from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.
Although I would hope the outcome of today's hearing is ultimately upholding the ban on Oklahoma's gun law, I also fear the highlighted use of the general duty clause may well lead down some paths that may not be as good for employers.
It might just emphasize one of the often overlooked aspects of the practice of law, that one of the most important laws of all is the law of unintended consequences.
Hat tip to Employment Law 360 for their story in today's edition, 10th Circ. To Hear Case On Guns At Work ($).