Safety and Training

Video: Fired for Your Firearm — Do You Have any Options?

Emily Taylor, an attorney at the law firm of Walker & Byington and a Texas Law Shield attorney

A recent incident, in which a Waffle House waitress was fired after defending herself against an attempted robbery, shows that even when people exercise their legal right to self-defense, they can still be terminated by their employers. According to WSBTV in Georgia, “Deputies said robbers gave a note to a waitress threatening to shoot everyone unless she gave them money.” Heather Stanley, another waitress at the Newnan, Georgia eatery, went out to her car, retrieved her handgun, and “fired one shot into the air” as the would-be robbers ran to their cars.

Emily Taylor, an attorney at the law firm of Walker & Byington and a Texas Law Shield attorney
Emily Taylor, an attorney at the law firm of Walker & Byington and a Texas Law Shield attorney

Stanley was fired by Waffle House after the incident.

Stanley told WSBTV, “I didn’t know if they had guns. I didn’t know if they were going to their vehicle to get another one and could come back and try to get to the safe, so my instinct was to go to my car and get the gun.” Stanley added, “For trying to protect their Waffle House and trying to protect their money and to get their money back, they let me go.” In Texas, employers can fire employees for similar policy violations. Independent Program Attorney Emily Taylor of Walker & Byington discusses the limited options fired employees in the Lone Star State have if they violate an employer’s firearms policy: What happens if you do get fired for violating a firearms policy? Well, unfortunately, Texas is an “employment at will” state so your employer can fire you for virtually any reason, or no reason at all at any time.

So if you’re fired for violating a firearms policy, you don’t really have recourse? Firearms owners in Texas are not a protected class of persons, so you can’t come back then and sue your employer and say you were discriminated against for being a firearms owner. We reserve this protected-class status for things like race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and things of this nature.

There’s one more quirk in Texas firearms law that pertains to employers and employees, and this is having your firearm in your vehicle at work. We have a bill here in Texas that says that the general rule is employers must allow you to do this.

However, that bill doesn’t have a punishment for employers who violate this law, so at the end of the day, if you have your firearm in the car, your employer tells you that you cannot do this, and then they fire you for having your firearm in the car, unfortunately, even though, they are in violation of the statute, you have again no legal recourse because Texas is employment at will.

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield and click here to become a member:


The just-released video above is from the Florida State Attorney’s Office, supporting a judge’s ruling that a citizen who opened fire on a man attacking a Lee County deputy last year was justified in using deadly force.
Taking the family to a state or national park this summer? Then you need to know the rules about firearms carry at your destinations, in-state or out of state. Click to watch Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington explain various park rules controlling where you can — and definitely cannot — take your gun. And please take the poll at the bottom to tell us if you take firearms with you on vacation. All poll responses are completely confidential.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (25)

  1. Anyone who does not want me to be able to defend myself can go find another employee whose life is worthless to them. No job is worth my life.

  2. The laws in all states that have employment at will or right to work needs to have some form of employee rights. Just firing someone for defending yourself or because they might not like your shoes is no reason. some thing needs to be done. If you are doing your job and not causing any problems you should have the right to keep your job until such time as you and your employer have an understanding.


    1. @ Matt.

      I think the “Analogy” is to “Kill the Pig, because the Pig saw the Fox entering the Hen House”. Doesn’t make sense to me either…

  4. Next time, let them rob the place, loot and pillage the customers while taking every penny in sight and watch them burn the place to the ground. As a consolation gift, also offer the robbers a plate of waffles to-go. Then stand there and wait for law enforcement to arrive and tell them you did not see anything. Your employer obviously does not appreciate you.

  5. My opinion of they’re going to fire her for defending herself my belief is you do not patronize or work for anyone that is not pro-gun just my opinion

  6. well i am sure this will not go over very well but here gos. i believe and practice the second amendment. i think our government has taken way to many gun right from us. they have taken to much freedom from us period. if i want to do heroin it is my business and no one else. our government is try to control the citizens and how can you call that freedom?

    with all that said, i believe in capitalism and we have drifted to far toward socialism. anyone has the right to control their property, the more we try and take that away the more freedom we have lost. so, an employer has the right to set the laws in his establishment. we have the right to free speech. we should never allow the government to take more of our freedoms.

    what we can do as has been stated is not visit those places that do not allow things we feel they should. hit them where it hurts the pocket book. second if you feel a person did the right thing as this lovely lady did and you have a business you should step up and hire her if you can. this has also be stated. while i think it is crap what happened we need to take back freedom not lose more.if she was fired she will get unemployment and hopefully someone will hire her. while i believe she acted correctly, what if a business was sued for someone getting hurt because of an action of an employee? the laws have gotten to complicated and in some instances are just ridiculous. things need to be simplified, i do not see it happening. i hope things work out for her. as for us i would not go into a business that had a no gun sign, i would not give them my money. in fact i will not go to new york, california and any other state that is anti gun. i will not give them a penny. gun folks are over 1/2 the population now, if we all follow this sort of thing i know things will change. money talks…

  7. I haven’t been to a “offal” house for over 20 years! I see my opinion of the place hasn’t changed!!

  8. I think we’re missing a couple of points here.

    1. She was apparently in no danger if she was able to go to her car and retrieve a weapon.
    2. She shot “INTO THE AIR” – a dangerous and illegal action.
    3. She fired her weapon “as the would-be robbers ran to their cars.” She was protecting NO ONE at that point.

    Putting aside whether she was allowed to carry on the employer’s property, these three actions show some obvious problems with the story as well as her understanding of the law and safety rules for using a weapon.

    She, and no one else. were in any danger at the time she fired her weapon.
    She violated Cooper’s rules as well as the law.

    She is lucky that she isn’t going to jail rather than just looking for a new job. No matter what crazy Uncle Joe says, shooting into the air is a stupid move.

    It’s fun to be outraged by the injustice done her, but a second look shows that there is much more going on here.

    1. I have to totally agree with Dave… He hit all the when to draw your weapon in CC 101… she violated all of them, even if her intention were good…

    2. what you say is totally correct if that is what happened. my reading skills suffer sometimes. it depends on how much sleep i have had. i still stand by the idea that any anti gun place should not get our business. everyone has to make our own decision and that is the way it should be. while i have liberal and anti gun friends, they have to put up with me. i will not give an establishment that is anti gun my money, in fact i will not travel to anti gun states if i can help it.

  9. This is so wrong. This brave lady may well have saved the lives of every customer in the place at the time including her own PLUS maybe a Police Officer or two and even the robbers life! She actually was not carrying it, the firearm was in her vehicle and perfectly legal. Waffle House was dead wrong in this instance.

  10. The law IS the law, BUT, if she was fired because she had a weapon, I think that Waffle House should not get any more business, period. The only legal way to fight this form of discrimination is to take away their livelyhood!

  11. Just a thought…… Imagine how it would have turned out if she had told the robber, her boss keeps 100 grand under his mattress & gave him her bosses address.

  12. In California, which is an “at will” employment state, they can let someone go for a reason, any reason, no reason. To bad businesses which support the 2A don’t hire the people let go for defending themselves.

  13. Don’t feel too bad I’m facing 5 years because I didn’t shoot I got my hand broke by my step daughter and they’re pushing gun charges on me when I wasn’t even used it didn’t even get brought out and she broke my hand and I’m going to do 5 years in prison for something I didn’t do it least you got a chance to defend yourself and I applaud you for that you stay safe and Mainstay healthy just remember that my life might end because the State of Arizona does not give medication without any of my medication I will die and there’s one they will not give me they have taken my gun illegally and there isn’t anybody who will help me or stand up for me in any way but I applaud you for standing up and doing what was right I had every right to shoot her but I didn’t do it may God be with you may you have a long life

    1. Are you a member of the NRA? They have a legal help policy for members that are being railroaded by inaccurate law enforcement.
      IF you are a member I would contact them immediately!! If your not a member, it still wouldn’t hurt to contact them.
      Maybe after the BIG retirement payout to the president of the NRA of I “believe” was over five million dollars, which seemed to tick off many members; that they MAY be willing to try to help you out in hopes of gaining new members, or trying to get old members back by using YOUR case as basicly advertisement.
      Either way it may help you out, regardless of the Reason they use to do it.

  14. This sort of crap has always been a sore point for me. If an employee has taken the steps to provide armed resistance to criminal attack against himself or herself…..or the establishment where they are employed… would think that the owners or management would be glad that such people are employed by them. That said, methinks that in such cases where armed employees are terminated in employment, we have yet another example of irrational hoplophobia on the part of people who WILL NOT yield through their prejudices against firearms. While it might be small consolation, in such instances where an armed employee saved themselves, or saved others, or fended off an attack on business proceeds…..and was rewarded with being fired for their good deeds, it would seem that the employer really didn’t appreciate them, in the first place.

  15. yep, but if the robbers shoot you anyway, even if you gave them the money, your employer can still fire you for interfering with the smooth robbery event.

  16. The “Waitress” was ALLOWED to go to “Her Car”? Alone, Unsupervised by any of the “Wouldbe Robbers”! How “Little” sense does this make.

    1. You don’t realize every place has more than one exit? And maybe the robbers weren’t aware this waitress was in the back room? Why so hard to imagine ways this might have been possible?

      I hope this waitress quickly found better employment elsewhere.

    2. I agree Sich. This story leaves me with many questions.

      If Ms. Stanley snuck out and got to her car, why not get in and drive away? That whole right to work thing goes both ways. I am under no requirement to protect the business’ money, assets, or customers.

      And then she fired a shot in the air. That is dangerous on so many levels. Bullets don’t get absorbed in the clouds.

      Do I think Waffle House was wrong? They could have handled it better. But I’m sure Ms. Stanley can easily find another food service job if she chooses.

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