Employment LawScene Alert: How Wisconsin’s Knife Law Reform Impacts Employers

On February 7, 2016, 2015 Assembly Bill 142 became law, amending the Wisconsin Statutes related to how knives are, among other things, regulated by concealed carry permits. The law no longer requires an individual to have a concealed carry permit in order to lawfully carry a concealed knife, including a switchblade or automatic knife. There is, however, an exception where the individual is not allowed to possess a firearm under state law (i.e., a felon), then that individual is also not allowed to carry a concealed knife that is a “dangerous weapon.” Local ordinances are not permitted to impose stricter laws than the state law, other than in buildings or parts of a building that are owned, operated, or controlled by a political subdivision of the state.

Although the State of Wisconsin will no longer require that knives, including switchblades, be subject to conceal carry permits, employers still have a duty to make sure that their workplaces are safe for their employees, customers, and visitors. If appropriate, employers should review their handbooks and policies to see if they have a Weapon-Free Policy that prohibits employees from carrying weapons, including knives, inside company buildings and other areas where the employer conducts business.

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