A little-noticed bill signed into law on May 5, 2015, provides new protections in the workplace for victims of domestic violence. However, the amendment to the Indiana Code could also limit an employer's ability to provide a safe working environment for all employees.
The Amendment prohibits employers in Indiana from firing an employee for filing a petition for a protective order or for actions of the employee's abuser. Thus an incident of violence or harassment taking place at the employment location by an employee's abuser cannot be the basis for discipline or termination of the employee. Likewise, the fact that an employee secures a protective order cannot be the basis for any adverse action as against that employee, even if the protective order impacts the workplace. However, the employee and employer are free to mutually agree to change the employee's work site, compensation, benefits, or other term or condition of employment in response to the filing of the protective order.
Prior to this Amendment, employees taking out protective orders, or having personal situations result in incidents of disruption at the workplace, could lose their jobs and likely have no claim as against the employer. The goal of the Amendment is to increase the likelihood of a victim retaining their job and thereby increasing the chances of getting out of a violent situation, most commonly of a domestic nature. Employers should proceed with caution in these situations, as they are responsible for providing a safe environment for all employees. Employers should have policies in place that encourage a safe environment. Employers should also consider security measures that make it more difficult for an abuser to gain access to the workplace.
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