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Indiana Supreme Court Considers Addition To Employment At-Will Exceptions

By Brandon Smith, IPB News | Published on in Business, Law, Statewide News
The Indiana Supreme Court chamber. (FILE PHOTO: Lauren Chapman/IPB News)
The Indiana Supreme Court chamber. (FILE PHOTO: Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

The Indiana Supreme Court could add another reason – to a limited list – for why employees can’t be fired.

The justices considered that issue at a court hearing Thursday.

In Indiana, employers don’t need a reason to fire you. But the state Supreme Court has established a few exceptions.

Forrest Perkins believes his case falls under one such exception. He says his employer, a South Bend hospital, fired him after he testified at a coworker’s unemployment hearing.

Perkins’s attorney, Shaw Friedman, says if the court rules against him, it sends a chilling message.

“Any witness, whether appearing under subpoena or not at an unemployment hearing, should not be at risk of losing his or her job for testifying truthfully and honestly,” Friedman says.

“Subpoena or not” matters a lot here. The judge at the unemployment hearing didn’t actually give Perkins a summons. Perkins says he thought he was under subpoena, so that should count. But Chief Justice Loretta Rush seemed skeptical.

“You’re arguing that Perkins had a good faith belief that he had a subpoena,” Rush says. “And good faith belief is a tough standard.”

There’s no timetable for the court’s decision.

Contact Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.