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HOW TO FIRE

Would You Fire Someone for Scaring Off Robbers?

A Walgreens pharmacist fires a gun, he says, in self-defense, and then is fired.
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A Michigan pharmacist is suing Walgreens after the chain fired him for shooting a concealed weapon during a break in.

Jeremy Hoven, 36, was working the overnight shift on Mothers Day, May 8, when two masked men walked in with handguns and took a floor manager hostage in the store in Benton Township, Michigan. Security videos from about 4:30 a.m. show one of the men leaping over the counter and pointing his gun at Hoven.

And so Hoven drew his. He fired several shots and the men took off. No one was injured.

"I feared for my life," he said at a press conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "The gunmen repeatedly attempted to fire upon me. In self defense, I fired my weapon."

A week later—and after he says he was praised for his efforts—he was fired. The reason: Walgreens has a "non escalation policy."

Hoven, who worked at Walgreens for five years and three months, says he has never seen such a policy. His lawyer, Dan Swanson, says Walgreens has so far refused to comply with their request for a copy of the policy and Hoven's personnel file. (Walgreens has denied he was fired over the policy.)

Hoven has filed suit challenging Walgreens' right to fire him for exercising his right of self defense. The store issued a statement saying store employees receive training in robbery procedures and that its policies "in this area are designed to maintain the maximum safety of our customers and employees... These policies and training programs are endorsed by law enforcement, which strongly advises against confrontation of crime suspects. Compliance is safer than confrontation. Through this practice, we have been able to maintain an exemplary record of safety."

The company also disputes Hoven's claim that he had "a right to carry or discharge a concealed weapon on its premises at any time."

Walgreens attorneys said in a response to Hoven's complaint: "Walgreens had a plausible and legitimate business reason to justify its decision to discharge [Hoven]."

In May, he told the local paper, The Herald-Palladium, that he decided to get a concealed weapon permit after the Walgreens store was robbed in 2007 but didn't do anything to step up security.

Last updated: Sep 8, 2011

COURTNEY RUBIN

Inc. contributing editor Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.




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