Legal Issues and Lawsuits and Workplace Safety and Law and Workplace Issues

Lawsuit tests Indiana's 'take your gun to work' law

September 22, 2012

New provisions of Indiana gun laws that allow people to keep guns in their cars at work and prohibit employers from asking about gun possession will get their first test in a lawsuit filed by an Indianapolis man.

Thomas Jordan filed suit against Camby-based ADM Enforcement Inc., accusing the company of violating the gun laws when it fired him Sept. 1.

Attorney Guy A. Relford says Jordan, 28, was showing an AR-15 rifle he had in his trunk to coworkers on July 6 while off-duty and not on company property. The weapon accidentally discharged, and though there were no injuries, Jordan received a written warning saying the AR-15 wasn't an "ADM authorized weapon."

The security company's owner sent an email the next day informing employees they could not have weapons in their vehicles while on duty and that supervisors' jobs could be at risk if their employees violate the policy.

Relford said Jordan removed the AR-15 from his car after receiving the email but he didn't announce he'd done so. A supervisor asked him a few weeks later whether he had a rifle in his car, but Jordan didn't answer directly.

"He is educated about the law, so he said, 'I may or may not, but that's protected by law. And you can't ask me that question,'" Relford told The Indianapolis Star.

Jordan was fired Sept. 1 and was told it was because he had in his vehicle a firearm not authorized by ADM.

ADM owner Anthony McClure could not be reached for comment.

Relford said the reason cited for the firing violates the 2010 take your gun to work" provision and that the supervisor's question violated a 2011 provision barring employers from asking about weapons.

Mark Ford, an attorney specializing in labor and employment law, said the statutes leave little wiggle room for employers concerned that weapons left in cars on company property could pose a security threat.

Employers can bar workers from bringing weapons into the workplace, but the "don't ask, don't tell" restriction prohibits them from asking whether employees have guns in their purses, Ford said.

However, state Rep. Mike Speedy said the fact that Jordan's gun discharged complicates the case, even though it wasn't cited in his firing.

"The right to possess is not the right to discharge," he said. "Even though it's not criminal, (the accidental discharge) is still negligent."

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