Tuesday, September 23, 2014

MI: Pharmacist Fired for Self Defense Loses Appeal

Jeremy Hoven is a pharmacist who worked at Walgreens in Benton Township, Michigan.   He had complained about security at the store after a robbery in 2007, and had obtained a concealed carry permit.   In 2011, at 4:30 a.m. on May 8th, he defended himself against armed robbers who had entered the store, taken a manager hostage, and who had tried to shoot him.   It was all captured on a dramatic video.  

A local police Lt. said that he would have done the same thing.  From abcnews.go.com:
Township police Lt. Delman Lange, after reviewing surveillance video, told the local paper, "If it was me, I would have done the same thing."
Eight days later, Hoven was fired from his $150,000 a year job at Walgreens.  Four months after being fired, in September of 2011, he filed a wrongful employment lawsuit, contending that Walgreens had violated his right to self defense.   

Fast foward nearly three years.   Jeremy Hoven has lost the initial court case (it was a federal lawsuit), and appealed to the Sixth Circuit.   On 2 June, 2014, Sixth Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore ruled against him and in favor of Walgreens. 

From modernmedicine.com:
Hoven filed a lawsuit against Walgreens claiming his firing violated his self-defense rights and his rights to carry a concealed weapon. The court disagreed, citing Hoven’s status as an at-will employee who could be fired at any time, for any reason.

While I think that Walgreens' policy is short sighted and counterproductive, and while I think Jeremy Hoven did the right thing, I also believe the court made the correct decision.   Private companies, just like private individuals, have the right to do stupid things.   Jeremy Hoven was an at-will employee.   As stated above, that means that his employer could fire him at any time, for any reason.   Any reason, even if the reason penalizes a man who did what most believe was something that may well have saved lives.   Many people called Hoven a hero.

When you agree to work without a contract, you can be fired at any time.   You can also quit at any time.   It is an important freedom that applies to everyone.   No doubt the $150,000 per year salary had something to do with his acceptance.   It is not unusual for professionals to work "at-will".   It is unusual for companies to fire them for protecting themselves.

Walgreens had the right to fire Jeremy Hoven for any reason it wants.   Everyone else has the right to shop, or refuse to shop, at Walgreens for any reason that they choose.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

In rejecting Hoven’s self-defense claim, Moore pointed to a case in which the court affirmed Wal-Mart’s firing of an employee who used medical marijuana. In that case, the court ruled that the state’s medical marijuana laws protects citizens against state action, but does not impose restrictions on private employers. - See more at: http://drugtopics.modernmedicine.com/drug-topics/news/court-upholds-walgreens-firing-pharmacist-using-handgun?page=full#sthash.SF9A9XNv.dpuf


Anonymous said...

Walgreens, not WalMart, as is shown within the story.

Dean Weingarten said...

Fixed. Thank you for the correction.