Indiana’s “Take Your Gun to Work” Statute

 

Indiana’s “Take Your Gun to Work” statute, codified at Ind. Cod §34-28-7, prohibits any person (meaning natural person or organization) from adopting and enforcing an ordinance, resolution, policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting an employee, including a contract employee, from possessing a firearm or ammunition locked in the employee’s vehicle out of sight at the employee’s job. Exceptions to the rule are numerous and varied, but include schools, domestic violence shelters, certain United States government facilities, nuclear regulatory facilities and property owned by public utilities that “generates and transmits electric power” or a department of public utilities created under Ind. Code SS 8-1-11.1 (consolidated city department of public utilities).

The statute, enacted in 2011 as HEA 1065, authorizes individuals to bring a civil action against any employer or other person who has violated this statute by attempting to enforce an ordinance, regulation or policy against firearms locked in an employee’s vehicle. A civil action can result in actual damages, costs, attorney fees and an injunction against the employer. The statute, however, specifically prohibits the jurisdiction of the court for an action against an employer who complies with the statute (presumably an action brought by an individual who is harmed by an employee who brings a firearm to work although that section is not clear).

A recent case has been brought under this statute is Caterpillar, Inc. v. Sudlow, 52 N.E.3d 19 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016). Sudlow, an employee of Caterpillar, had a loaded handgun in between the driver’s seat and center console of his locked vehicle. Another Caterpillar employee saw the gun and reported it to security. Caterpillar suspended Sudlow indefinitely then fired him for violating the company firearm policy. Sudlow brought suit for violating the “Take Your Gun to Work” Statute, and the trial court found in his favor, as the company policy did not require the weapon to be stored out of sight. However, the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the statute does not protect employees when the firearm is in plain view. The statute forbids employers from adopting policies that prohibit employees from possessing a firearm or ammunition “that is locked in the trunk of the employee’s vehicle, kept in the glove compartment of the employee’s locked vehicle, or stored out of plain sight in the employee’s locked vehicle” (emphasis added).

The statements contained herein are for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice and should not be construed to form an attorney-client relationship. If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact an attorney.