Sixth Circuit upholds Walgreen firing of employee who fired personal weapon at armed robbers
Jeremy Hoven was working the night shift as a pharmacist at a western Michigan Walgreens. He was carrying a concealed weapon for which he had been issued a permit. When he observed armed men enter the store, and according to him one of the men pointed a weapon at him, he fired multiple shots at the men. Apparently he hadn't much experience using the weapon, as no one was harmed; nevertheless, eight days later he was fired by Walgreens. Walgreens loss-prevention officials concluded that he had violated its "non-escalation policy."
Hoven filed suit in Berrien County, arguing that Walgreens' firing of him constituted a denial of his legal rights. Walgreens moved the case to federal court. The trial judge ruled that Walgreens was within its legal rights in terminating Hoven and that his termination did not violate public policy. The appellate judges rejected Hoven's argument; they rationalized that the Self-Defense Act, which immunizes from criminal liability a person whom the jury believes has acted solely in self defense, does not confer the right to fire a weapon without civil ramifications.
Similarly, the statutory right to carry a concealed weapon, for example, does not result in a completely unfettered right to carry: there are limitations on the right to carry and the right to discharge a weapon even within that act. Finally, even under Michigan's broad relaxation of the "right to carry" the Legislature granted employers the right to preclude an employee from carrying a concealed pistol while conducting the employer's business. In short, the employer's statutory right to adopt and enforce restrictions on carrying a weapon--or discharging it--was deemed to be constitutional and not a violation of public policy.