Single mother Ivette Ros doesn’t go anywhere without her gun.
But the 37-year-old lost her job as a bank manager for bringing her gun to work at a Wells Fargo branch in Oldsmar.
“When we take our course for concealed weapons licenses, they do state the bank is a place we can take your weapon to, so I never thought otherwise until I was being questioned,” she said.
Ros doesn’t know who found out she was packing or how they found out, but she says bank security questioned her about the gun she was carrying. She says she was fired three days later.
Now she and her lawyer have filed a lawsuit seeking damages.
"What she did was within her constitutional rights," Second Amendment attorney Noel Flasterstein said. "What they did was a violation of Florida statute. Hence we have the suit, hence we’ll move forward."
While Wells Fargo wouldn’t comment specifically on Ros' case, spokeswoman Kathy Harrison released a written statement:
"We have a policy regarding firearms which is that employees are strictly prohibited from possessing firearms and weapons on company premises. However, Wells Fargo recognizes applicable state laws regarding guns in employer parking lots.”
That law, the Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008, allows Ros to keep her gun locked and concealed in her car. But her lawyer argues parts of that statute apply to her case.
One section reads, “No public or private employer may terminate the employment of or otherwise discriminate against an employee, or expel a customer or invitee for exercising his or her constitutional right to keep and bear arms or for exercising the right of self-defense as long as a firearm is never exhibited on company property for any reason other than lawful defensive purposes.”
Flasterstein says that’s what happened to his client, and he believes he’ll win this case.
But Alva Cross, an attorney who specializes in representing employers, says it’s not that simple.
"At the end of the day, just because you have a concealed weapons permit, it doesn’t give you an absolute right to bring to a firearm into the workplace,” she said.
Cross says the statute Ros’ lawyer points to pertains only to guns in an employee’s parked car. She says Wells Fargo was well within its right to keep workers from carrying guns on the job.
Still, Ros believes her Second Amendment rights should trump a bank’s employee handbook. Ros says she brought her gun into the bank she managed because she felt she had no protection against robbers.
"I understand some people don’t feel comfortable with weapons. I respect that. But I do, so why undermine my feelings and how I feel?” Ros said.
Ros vows to keep speaking out in the issue until lawmakers make a change. She says she wants an apology from her former employer, and compensation for emotional and monetary damages.