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IBA: Indiana's No-Smoking Law and Potential Penalties to Employers for Failure to Adhere

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By Christopher S. Drewry,

Drewry Simmons Vornehm LLP

The IndyBar Labor & Employment Section posts articles written by Executive Committee members on its indybar.org section page throughout the year. Check out one article below and visit the section webpage at http://www.indybar.org/interest-groups/labor-employment-law/.

Back in March (and mixed in with other notable legislative changes like Right to Work and Restricting Access to Conviction Records), Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law a bill imposing statewide restrictions on smoking in public places. This law went into effect on July 1, 2012, and will affect all Indiana employers. While employers likely have already taken certain actions under this new law, the failure to follow the provisions could result in steep penalties, up to and including $10,000 in fines.

If you recall, smoking is now prohibited in most Indiana workplaces (exceptions being places like riverboats, horse racing facilities and other gaming facilities, retail tobacco stores, and bars that do not employ individuals under the age of 18 or allow individuals under the age of 21, other than employees, to enter, among other things). The law requires employers to prohibit smoking in areas within eight feet of a public entrance to a “place of employment” or a “public place.”

Additionally, since July 1st, employers have had additional obligations beyond merely prohibiting smoking. First, all employees and prospective employees must be informed of the smoking prohibition applying to the place of employment. This could be accomplished by including it in the employee handbook, or for prospective employees, by inserting a statement about the policy in the employment application. Next, employers are required to remove any and all ashtrays and smoking paraphernalia from all areas of public places and places of employment where such smoking is prohibited. Lastly, employers must post “conspicuous signs” at each public entrance which says “State Law Prohibits Smoking Within 8 Feet of this Entrance.” For those businesses that fall under the exception to this prohibition, they too must post conspicuous signs that read “WARNING: Smoking Is Allowed In This Establishment” or some other similar language.

While an individual who smokes where prohibited commits a Class B infraction (or up to a Class A infraction with at least three prior infractions), employers too may be penalized where they fail to abide by the three aforementioned proactive obligations. State agencies, including the State Department of Health, county health departments, and law enforcement agencies can issue fines ranging from $1,000 for a first violation up to $10,000 if there are three violations, and employers may also be enjoined for a failure to abide by the provisions of the law.

Finally, one other potential issue for employers in dealing with the prohibition of smoking is the fact that Indiana also has a statute prohibiting discrimination against smokers in employment and hiring. Further, the Americans with Disabilities Act may come into play for individuals who suffer diseases as a result of smoking.

Ultimately, it is important that employers be aware of the smoking ban and to implement the proper procedures in adherence of the rules. Additionally, it is important to note that the state law specifically authorizes local governments to enact more restrictive ordinances. Therefore, employers must follow the requirements of the more restrictive local ordinances over the state ban. Whether it involves the employer’s upfront obligations with the state law or other local ordinance, the smoking policies that have been put into place, or the enforcement of rules, counsel should take notice of the potential issues that can arise with the no-smoking law and ensure that their clients are in compliance.•

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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