Juan Crespo worked as an armed guard for a private security contractor. Crespo was assigned to guard the perimeter of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility. When Crespo began his shift one evening he drove his company vehicle to his post. After arriving at his post, he realized he did not have all of the paperwork required to perform the job assignment. Crespo went back to the ICE facility office, parked his vehicle in a parking space designated for ICE employees, placed his gun in the glove compartment, and locked his vehicle.
Crespo was later terminated for leaving his post, parking in an unauthorized parking space, and leaving his loaded firearm in the car’s glove compartment. Crespo filed for unemployment benefits, which were subsequently granted by a claims adjudicator. The security company appealed the adjudicator’s decision, arguing that Crespo violated the company’s policy by not storing his gun in his assigned gun locker. After the appeal hearing, Crespo’s award of unemployment benefits was reversed. Crespo appealed the reversal of his unemployment benefits.
The state appellate court reversed the denial of Crespo’s unemployment benefit and remanded the case for reinstatement of his benefits. The appeals court found the employer’s rule for gun storage was unclear. The policy only required that security guards always store guns in a safe place. The policy did not define “safe place.” The state appellate court held that there was no willful violation of the security company’s employment policy by Crespo that would prohibit his collection of unemployment benefits.
It is important for security companies to have clearly defined policies governing the safe handling and storage of company-assigned weapons. In this case, the court concluded that the security company’s policy requiring weapons to be stored in a “safe place” was not a violation.
Crespo v. Florida Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission, No. 3D12-509, Florida District Court of Appeal, December 5, 2012.