A House committee passed a bill Tuesday that would make it illegal for Indiana employers to discriminate against veterans and members of the military.
House Bill 1242, authored by Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, says employers could be charged with unlawful employment practices if they refuse to hire applicants because of their military service.
Alleged violations would be investigated and enforced by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission.
Jim Bowerly, commissioner of the Veterans Affairs Commission and a retired U.S. Army veteran, said veterans should have more protections because of the services they’ve provided.
The law would also apply to members of the National Guard and reservists.
“Those who have served and sacrificed are at a disadvantage,” said Ron Martin, a member of the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana. He said the bill would provide proper legal recourse against discrimination.
HB 1242 would allow veterans to receive punitive or compensatory damages if discriminated against during the hiring process.
Kent Morgan, a spokesman for the National Disabled American Veterans, said he has been subjected to discrimination many times. Morgan, who served in Vietnam, said that after he came back he was afraid to put on his resume that he was a veteran because of the discrimination he would receive.
“We need to do something quickly,” Morgan said. “If it wasn’t for veterans, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
The bill passed unanimously and now moves to the full House for consideration.