by Matthew A. Brown
An amendment to the Indiana Civil Rights Act (ICRA) going into effect July 1 means employers should assess their policies and practices to ensure they don’t discriminate on the basis of an applicant’s or employee’s status as a veteran.
Indiana House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1242 adds veteran status to the protected categories already covered in the ICRA—race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, and ancestry. A veteran under the ICRA includes not only someone who served in the U.S. armed forces but also a member of the Indiana National Guard or a reserves component of the armed forces.
The new law covers private employers with at least six employees as well as the state of Indiana and local governmental units. The Indiana Civil Rights Commission will enforce the Act and is generally empowered to order remedies for discriminatory conduct, including the payment of lost wages, salary, or commissions. However, HEA 1242 enlarged the commission’s powers if it finds an employer failed to hire someone based on veteran status. In such a situation, the commission can order the employer to place the veteran in the position he or she was seeking.
HEA 1242 also requires employers to provide notice to applicants about the new protections for veterans. The Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been tasked with helping devise language employers may use for such notices.
For more information on HEA 1242 and other laws protecting veterans, military servicemembers, and their families, see the June issue of Indiana Employment Law Letter.