On April 15, 2011, Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law a bill that, as of July 1, 2011, will impose new restrictions on Indiana employers' efforts to monitor employee gun possession. Specifically, under the new law, employers may not: (1) require an applicant or employee to "disclose information about whether the applicant or employee owns, possesses, uses or transports a firearm or ammunition"; or (2) "condition employment, or any rights, benefits, privileges or opportunities offered by the employment, upon an agreement that the applicant ... or employee forego their rights [under this law or their] otherwise lawful (i) ownership; (ii) possession; (iii) storage; (iv) transportation; or (v) use of a firearm or ammunition." In other words, the law not only forbids employers from requiring employees or applicants to divulge information about their use, possession or transportation of guns, it also prohibits employers from conditioning employment on relinquishment of any rights related to gun ownership.
As with the "bring-your-gun-to-work" law that took effect in Indiana in July 2010, this bill also provides legal remedies for individuals who believe an employer has violated its provisions. A successful plaintiff suing under the new law could recover actual damages, court costs and attorneys' fees, and obtain injunctive relief, i.e., have the court issue an order directing the employer to comply. However, this statute differs from the "bring-your-gun-to-work" law in that it also provides for exemplary or punitive damages if the court finds that an employer knowingly or willfully violated the law. Thus, there is the potential for a significant punitive damages award against an employer who willingly chooses to ignore the provisions of the new law.
The primary impact of this law will be on those employers who adopted disclosure policies in response to last year's "bring-your-gun-to-work" law. Policies requiring employees to disclose information about whether they own, possess or transport a gun, including information about whether they are bringing firearms to work in their vehicles, will be unlawful under this new law and must be revised. The new law also arguably prohibits having a separate parking lot area for employees who keep firearms in their vehicles, because enforcement of such a rule would involve requiring employees to disclose their transporting of firearms in their vehicles. It is important to note, however, that this new law does not otherwise expand employees' rights to carry guns on their employers' properties. Thus, in Indiana, employees may still only bring guns to work as a matter of legal right so long as the guns are kept out of sight in the employees' locked vehicles, and employers may still adopt policies that restrict gun possession at the workplace that extend beyond employees' vehicles.