Indiana Whistleblower Laws

State Laws of Indiana as they apply to Whistleblowers

A Summary of Indiana Whistleblower Laws

Indiana follows the employment-at-will doctrine. Under this doctrine, employees can be discharged from work for any reason or no reason. However, Indiana has two exceptions to this doctrine that are used to protect employees. These include statutory protections and common law protections. Statutory protections are laws that are enacted by the state’s legislature and usually cover specific subject areas such as discrimination, while common law protections are laws created by courts to address areas that are not covered by the enacted laws.

This is a summary of Indiana Whistleblower Laws, make sure to check out the Federal Whistleblower Laws as well.

Whistleblower Rights in Indiana

Common Law Protections

Indiana uses its public policy as an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine. When a case is brought before a court by a whistleblower, the court looks at statutes and constitutional provisions that address subjects similar to the whistleblower’s case in order to determine whether the whistleblower is eligible for protection under the state’s public policy. So, for example, if a statute endorses an employee’s right to work without suffering discrimination because of his or her age, the policy here is that employees are protected from discrimination and an employer who discriminates against an employee may be found guilty of violating public policy. In the past, Indiana courts have protected employees who engage in the following activities:

  • Filing a claim for workers’ compensation.
  • Refusing to commit an unlawful act.
  • Exercising a right endorsed by a statute.

Statutory Protections for Whistleblowers in Indiana

Public Contractors

Private employers who are under public contract are not allowed to discharge, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Disclosing a violation of federal law or regulation.
  • Disclosing a violation of a state rule or law.
  • Disclosing a waste of public resources.
  • Disclosing a misuse of authority.

Employees are required to disclose the violation to the private employer unless the private employer is the one committing the violation or misuse of resources and authority. If the employer is the violator, employees can make the disclosure in writing to either the private employer or government agency. If no effort has been made to correct the violation within a reasonable time, the employee can submit a written report to any person, agency, or organization. Ind. Code § 22-5-3-3.

Political Subdivisions

Political subdivisions are not allowed to discharge, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Disclosing a violation of federal law or regulation.
  • Disclosing a violation of a state rule or law.
  • Disclosing a waste of public resources.
  • Disclosing a misuse of authority.

Employees are required to disclose the violation to the private employer unless the private employer is the one committing the violation or misuse of resources and authority. If the employer is the violator, employees can make the disclosure in writing to either the private employer or government agency. If no effort has been made to correct the violation within a reasonable time, the employee can submit a written report to any person, agency, or organization. Ind. Code § 36-1-8-8.

Discrimination

Under this statute, employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for filing a complaint or participating in an investigation, hearing, or proceeding held by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. The Indiana Civil Rights Commission prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, handicap, national origin, or ancestry. Ind. Code § 22-9-1-6(g).

Age Discrimination

It is considered an unfair employment practice for an employer to discharge an employee because the employee provided evidence concerning Indiana’s age discrimination laws. Under this statute, employers are not allowed to discharge, refuse to hire, or in any way discriminate against an individual because of the individual’s age. This law applies to individuals younger than 75 years but 40 years or older. Ind. Code § 22-9-2-8.

Occupational Health and Safety

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint or instituting a proceeding related to Indiana’s Occupational Health and Safety Law.
  • Testifying in a proceeding under Indiana’s Occupational Health and Safety Law.
  • Exercising a right endorsed by this statute on behalf of himself, herself, or others.

Ind. Code § 22-8-1.1-38.1.

Minimum Wage

It is against the law for employers to discharge, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Instituting or participating in an institution of an action to recover wages.
  • Demanding payment of wages under Indiana laws concerning minimum wage.

Ind. Code § 22-2-2-11.

Whistleblower Hotlines in Indiana

To file a complaint under the discrimination statute, call the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) at 1-800-457-8283.

To file a complaint under the age discrimination statute, call the Indiana Department of Labor at (317) 232-2655.

You can file a complaint under the Occupational Health and Safety statute here.

Whistleblower Retaliation Claims in Indiana

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, whistleblowers should file a lawsuit within 2 years of the retaliatory action.

Discrimination

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) within 180 days of the retaliatory action.

Age Discrimination

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Indiana Department of Labor within 4 months of the retaliation.

Occupational Health and Safety

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Indiana Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Division (IOSHA) within 30 days of the retaliatory action.

Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Indiana

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, employers who are found guilty of unlawful retaliation may be ordered by a court or mediator to fulfill a combination or any of the following to compensate the complainant:

  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Back pay
  • Injunction
  • Lost benefits
  • Front pay
  • Plus any other compensatory damages are deemed appropriate.

Public Contractors

Employers who violate this statute may be found guilty of a Class A infraction.

Political subdivisions

Employers who violate this statute may be found guilty of a Class A infraction.

Click for an overview of Federal Whistleblower Laws .

More Indiana Laws

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