Late yesterday (March 4, 2010), the Indiana Legislature passed, with overwhelming support, a bill prohibiting employers from keeping employees' legally-possessed firearms off their property, so long as the firearms are kept out of sight in a locked vehicle. The bill, which mirrors laws in 12 states and was supported by the National Rifle Association, now awaits the Governor's signature. Although the proposed law would not prevent employers from banning firearms inside the workplace, employers must still reexamine their policies and practices regarding firearms on their property. Significantly, the bill also authorizes individual lawsuits against employers who fail to comply with the law.
The Governor now has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. Given the exceedingly strong support it received (House 75-20; Senate 41-9), it seems likely he will sign the bill into law, and it would become effective on July 1, 2010. If so, then employers must comply with its provisions unless they are an exempt institution—schools and colleges, child care centers, group homes, and domestic violence shelters, among others. Otherwise, employers must revise their current policies regarding firearms if those policies are not consistent with the law, or they face the possibility of legal action. Indeed, the law allows a court to order an employer to comply with the law, and employees can recover actual damages, attorney's fees, and costs. With these remedies available, plaintiffs' attorneys will have an incentive to file lawsuits.
If the Governor signs the bill, employers must respond to these restrictions and modify policies and practices that generally prohibit firearms on employer property. Employers and other interested parties may also respond by challenging the law in court. We already are discussing with clients the possibility of representing a coalition of parties to do so. We will provide an update when the Governor acts on the bill.