Under the Dome

House OKs employee subterfuge bill

The state House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bill aimed at preventing theft or subterfuge by employees. House Bill 405 now goes to the Senate.

It creates an avenue for employers to sue workers who steal merchandise or records, are involved in corporate espionage or who commit data breaches.

But the bill’s backers are still fighting animal activists’ labeling of the legislation as an "ag-gag" bill, aimed at thwarting undercover investigations of animal abuse on farms.

Republican Rep. Jimmy Dixon, a farmer from Warsaw, said the bill would prove to be a model for other states in preventing abuses at not only farms but restaurants, hospitals or other businesses.

The bill doesn’t prevent legitimate employee whistleblowers from reporting what they find, nor from news media conducting undercover investigations. It is only aimed at employees who intentionally set out to breach their "duty of loyalty" to their employer.

It prevents anyone from placing an unattended camera or other surveillance device in a business, but doesn’t preclude someone posing as a customer or visitor from having a hidden camera or recording device on them.

The vote was 100-18.