Stay informed and ready to meet both everyday challenges and long-term planning and policy-making goals, with focused news, practical information, and strategic insights on all HR-related developments.
June 2 — A Walgreen Co. pharmacist in Michigan who was terminated after he fired his concealed handgun during a store robbery failed to show he was wrongfully discharged in violation of public policy, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled June 2.
The Sixth Circuit found that Jeremy Hoven, an at-will employee, failed to show that he was fired for exercising a “right conferred by a well-established legislative enactment.”
The appeals court rejected Hoven's arguments that the U.S. and Michigan constitutions, as well as state laws pertaining to self-defense and the licensing of concealed weapons, granted him the rights to defend himself and others, and to carry a concealed gun while on the job.
No state currently prohibits employers from banning firearms on company property, excluding parking lots, according to a recent Bloomberg BNA Insights article. Approximately 22 states allow employees to store their firearms in their locked vehicles while at work.
Counsel for Hoven June 2 declined to comment on the ruling. Attorneys for Walgreen didn't respond to Bloomberg BNA's June 2 request for comment.
According to the court, Hoven obtained a license to lawfully carry a concealed weapon after he experienced his first armed robbery at a Walgreen store in 2007. He bought a handgun and began to bring it to work in his pocket.
In May 2011, masked armed robbers entered his store, and one pointed a gun at Hoven, who responded by firing his concealed gun multiple times. The incident resulted in no injuries.
Walgreen officials met with Hoven and told him he could choose to resign or be fired for violating the company's non-escalation policy. Hoven refused to resign and he was fired several days later.
Hoven sued Walgreen, but the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan ruled against him.
On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed and ruled that Hoven failed to state a viable claim for termination in violation of public policy.
Under Michigan law, the court explained, employers may discharge at-will employees “at any time for any, or no, reason.” But Michigan has recognized an exception to this general rule where an employer's reasons for firing an employee are “so contrary to public policy as to be actionable,” the court said.
It found that the Michigan Supreme Court has recognized three scenarios in which the exception may apply, one of which involves instances in which an employee “is discharged for exercising a right conferred by a well-established legislative enactment.”
The Sixth Circuit found that Hoven failed to establish that the exception applied in his case.
The court rejected Hoven's argument that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and an analogous article in the Michigan Constitution, supported his public policy claim.
Although those provisions “limit some state interference with individuals' right to engage in self-defense and bear arms, they do not prevent interference with these rights by private actors,” such as Walgreen, the Sixth Circuit said.
It also found no merit to Hoven's reliance on the Michigan Self-Defense Act. That law doesn't “confer” a general right to engage in self-defense or the defense of others, or to carry concealed weapons, the court said.
In addition, the Sixth Circuit dismissed Hoven's reliance on Michigan laws pertaining to the licensing of concealed weapons, which state that employers shall not prohibit employees from applying for or receiving such a license or from carrying a concealed gun in compliance with that license (Mich. Comp. Laws § 28.425n(2)).
The appeals court observed, however, that the laws also expressly state that they don't prohibit an employer from barring an employee from carrying a concealed weapon in the course of his or her employment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)