Wausau man sues over firing for legal gun in car

File photo.

WAUSAU (AP) - A Wausau man with a concealed-carry permit has sued his former employer for firing him, allegedly over having a gun in his car at work.

Ethan Shepherd contends window and door maker Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co. Inc. violated Wisconsin's concealed-carry law when it fired him.

Shepherd's lawsuit was filed last week in Marathon County Circuit Court. President Nik Clark of Wisconsin Carry Inc. told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel his group is paying the upfront costs of the suit.

The lawsuit alleges that in March, someone from the human resources department of the Wausau-based company asked Shepherd if he had a concealed-carry license and a firearm in his car.

Shepherd answered yes to both questions. He was then asked if he had shown his gun to anyone at work, and he said he had - inside his own car, after work. Shepherd was then fired.

The lawsuit contends Shepherd's firing violates a section of Wisconsin's 2011 concealed-carry law, which bars employers from prohibiting employees with a permit from storing a weapon in their vehicle, even if it is parked on company property.

Clark said when Kolbe officials were first contacted about Shepherd's incident, they said he had his gun outside his car, which Shepherd denies.

"I think this case should put companies on notice to review their corporate policies and make sure they don't expose themselves to legal jeopardy," Clark said.

The suit seeks Shepherd's reinstatement with back pay, a declaration that Kolbe can't take "negative job action" against employees with concealed-carry licenses who keep a gun in their private vehicle, even while parked at Kolbe, and his legal costs.

A company representative did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press on Wednesday.