CROWN POINT | A former Lakes of the Four Seasons employee is suing the gated community's property owners association because he claims he was illegally fired for being a gun owner.
Nino Ferlaino, who worked as a seasonal landscaping employee at LOFS for 21 years, says in a lawsuit filed Monday in Lake Circuit Court that he was confronted by a supervisor two days after he told co-workers he is a gun owner.
The supervisor, Doug Weiss, on July 2 asked Ferlaino if it was true he carried a gun, the lawsuit says. Ferlaino claims he replied he owned a gun but did not carry it on him at work.
Weiss told Ferlaino that Weiss had met with the property owners association's board of directors July 1 and that Ferlaino's conversation with his co-workers violated the company's "no tolerance policy," the lawsuit says. Ferlaino says he was fired July 2.
A message left Tuesday seeking comment on the lawsuit from the Lakes of the Four Seasons Property Owners Association Inc. was not immediately returned. Emails to the president and vice president of the association's board also went unanswered Tuesday night.
The association violated Indiana's "take your gun to work law," which was amended in 2011, because it required Ferlaino to divulge information about owing a gun and fired him because he's a gun owner, Ferlaino's attorney, Marissa McDermott, said in an email.
The law also forbids most employers from preventing their employees from bringing a gun to work if the firearm is secure in the employee's vehicle, McDermott said.
"The law in question is relatively new and many employers may not know what rights it affords their employees," McDermott wrote.
McDermott said she believes this is the first case of its kind to be filed in Lake County.
Ferlaino is seeking actual and punitive damages, attorney fees and other litigation expenses. He's also asking a judge to order the property owners association to refrain from engaging in similar practices with regard to other employees.