DGU Puts Kroger in a Jam Over Employee Gun Policy

“The actions of a Kroger store manager who shot and killed a would-be robber inside the grocery store are being hailed by many as heroic,” indystar.com reports. “But it’s also likely that the manager violated company rules on bringing guns into the workplace. That thrusts Kroger into an awkward and unenviable place — front and center in the midst of a polarizing public debate over whether guns belong in the workplace.” Really? I reckon only gun control advocates and media mavens get their knickers in a twist about concealed carry permit holders carrying a concealed weapon in the workplace. Incidents like this one—where an employee shoots an armed robber in the head—are hardly likely to get Joe Q. Public’s anti-gun dander up. Quite the opposite. No, the real story here is Kroger’s dilemma . . .

Under Indiana law, Kroger is allowed to decide whether or not to let employees bring guns to work. And if an employee breaks a company rule, Kroger is under no legal obligation to discipline or fire him — or to make its decision public.

The problem, Indianapolis lawyer Michael Blickman said, is that not disciplining Elliott would open the door for some legal risk in the future.

Gun owners aren’t necessarily trained in how to deal with dangerous situations. If another employee one day fires a gun and accidentally hurts an innocent person, the company could become liable if it’s thought to be permissive of workplace weapon use, said Blickman, a partner in the labor and employment group at Ice Miller.

Shooting the bad guy holding a gun to your buddy’s back seems pretty straightforward to me. Still, point taken. It’s all about the insurance. Profit and loss. (Hey, it’s the American way.) Meanwhile, the supermarket chain must negotiate a PR minefield.

Disciplining or firing the employee is no easy fix either, Blickman said, “given that most people are likely relieved at the outcome.”

Kroger has to be wondering whether coming down hard on the employee could lead to a boycott, Blickman said — or worse. “What if there’s an organized effort by the NRA?” . . .

Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, who sponsored the recent gun bill, agreed with Tomes.

“This could have turned out a different way if that employee was not carrying,” Speedy said. “Kroger could have two dead employees. What value is their policy then?”

On the other hand, not all shoppers would feel entirely comfortable if they thought the produce guy might be a wanna-be Wyatt Earp.

Was that crack really necessary? Never mind. Kroger didn’t get to the top of the supermarket heap by pissing off its customers. Sensibly enough, they’re following TTAG’s post-DGU advice: STFU.

Kroger’s spokesman Elliott said the company will kick off an internal investigation but that it will take some time before figuring out how to proceed.

“As you could imagine,” John Elliott said, “this decision is going to involve multiple decision-makers.”

And lots and lots of time. Meanwhile, Kroger’s current no-guns-at-work policy remains in place.

 

comments

  1. avatar ST says:

    You can always get another job. You can’t get another life.

  2. avatar Blake says:

    Cool, the bureaucratic inertia of a large corporation will push the completion of the “investigation” beyond the public attention window.

  3. avatar Eric S. says:

    I shop at Kroger in Ohio. My particular store has been robbed (pharmacy counter) and had a aggravated robbery of a 55 year old lady in the parking lot (who was relieved of her blood pressure meds) within the last 7 months. If they enforce this policy I’ll start shopping elsewhere.

  4. avatar GS650G says:

    The news story is just dripping with anti gun feelings. If it was their daughter being shoved into the backroom at gunpoint they would feel differently about it.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      If it was their daughter, I’d root for the bad guy.

      1. avatar Taurus609 says:

        So I guess if I bad mouth one of the Chosen Ones (ralph), my comments get deleted, nice!

        1. avatar Robert Farago says:

          You fell afoul of TTAG’s anti-flaming policy. Please play nice. Or at least a little nicer.

        2. avatar Taurus609 says:

          Robert, so what Ralph said about the daughter is fine, but calling him an A-hole for rooting for the bad guy is crossing the line!!!!!

        3. avatar Ralph says:

          Don’t get your panties in a bunch, Taurus. I wouldn’t have struck your brilliant retort, but then again, it’s not my blog.

          I’ve been called worse things by better people than you. What you write doesn’t bother me once I consider the source.

          By the way, did you know that Taurus is the sign of the bull? Ironic, huh?

        4. avatar Taurus609 says:

          Consider what source, do you know something I don’t? And it’s not astrological, it’s what I usually carry. Although I have switched lately to my Sig Pro 2022.
          And no I really didn’t think you would have been offended, but couldn’t understand it being pulled.

        5. avatar Ralph says:

          but couldn’t understand it being pulled

          Me neither. Frankly, I don’t care what anyone writes about me, as long as they’re reading what I wrote.

        6. avatar E. Zach Lee-Wright says:

          I am here to tell you Ralph is long on getting along. I gig him from time to time just for fun and he always takes it with humor. Robert can do as he likes since it is his blog but generally he is long on getting along too.

      2. avatar Totenglocke says:

        Heh, nice.

  5. avatar Silver says:

    In other news, mikeb and the Brady Bunch will be holding a candlelight vigil for their fallen hero, the armed robber.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Too funny!

    2. avatar Tom says:

      Being Indy, this might actually happen.

    3. avatar Totenglocke says:

      I can see it now – The Tomb of the Unnamed Burglar.

  6. avatar Tom says:

    Gee..this sort of happened in my backyard. Indy is very anti-gun for Indiana. I think the store manager should be awarded the Pour Le Merit, but it probably will not go down this way. I really ( sniff, sniff ) fell bad for the bad guy; such a helpless little boy. Wish more of the little pests would get erradicated.

    1. avatar Taurus609 says:

      Actually Tom, if history repeats itself, he (the dead bad guy) will be portrayed as a pillar of the community, and he never would have done what they said he did. So he’ll be the victim, and the Kroger employee will be the one facing time. Happens all the time!

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    If I was Kroger’s lawyer, I would suggest placing a written reprimand in the offending employee’s file and require the guy to go into the Employee Assistance Program (every company has an EAP) where he would learn about the importance of following corporate directives and be treated for PTSD. Being a compassionate employer, I’d also suggest giving him an extra week of paid vacation time so he could recover from his trauma.

    No firing, no suspension, no docking of pay, no bad publicity and extremely limited additional exposure to future lawsuits. Since the employee could take his EAP at company expense on company time, he won’t care about that, and the extra time off will be welcome.

    And then I’d buy the guy a beer. Or two.

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      plenty of ways to sweep this under the rug.

    2. avatar Tom says:

      I still would award him a medal. The guy should be held up as a role model.

  8. avatar ready, fire,aim says:

    “On the other hand, not all shoppers would feel entirely comfortable if they thought the produce guy might be a wanna-be Wyatt Earp”

    has long as wyatt shoots the right person…i’m ok with that

  9. avatar Kendahl says:

    A few years ago, Kroger bought the most popular local supermarket chain in my city. Under the state CCW law, they are entitled to prohibit weapons in their stores as long as they post a prominent sign to that effect. So far, I have seen no such signs.

  10. avatar moovova says:

    Give the guy a raise and transfer him to a Kroger in Washington, DC. That’s how the gubment does a demotion.

  11. avatar Rich7553 says:

    “Gun owners aren’t necessarily trained in how to deal with dangerous situations. If another employee one day fires a gun and accidentally hurts an innocent person, the company could become liable if it’s thought to be permissive of workplace weapon use, said Blickman, a partner in the labor and employment group at Ice Miller.”

    There have been multiple occurrences of employees of various companies stopping armed robberies through use of a firearm. Has there ever been an occurrence of an employee attempting to stop a robbery and hurting an innocent person in the process? This kind of “what-if” thinking is what leads gun control advocates to continue the “wild west” and “blood in the streets” meme, despite a lack of evidence to support such fantasy.

    1. avatar E. Zach Lee-Wright says:

      A photographer was shot in his studio by an intruder. He grabbed a handgun from a bag and fled out the back door. The shooter left out the front and ran around the block. As luck would have it they met up where the alley came to the street. The photographer shot the guy but one shot missed and struck a lady sitting in the drivers seat of a nearby van.

      I do not recall what town this took place in or any other details of the story. As I recall everyone survived and the photographer’s insurance paid out when the lady sued him. I did a word search and scanned five pages of results getting thinner and thinner. The actual story didn’t pop up.

      To answer your question, yes, it sometimes happens that what otherwise would be a justified dgu sometimes results in an innocent third party being wounded.

  12. avatar Jarhead1982 says:

    Actually money bets that Krogers had an insurance policy for employee death and are actually pissed off that the manager failed to add to their bottom line like Walgreens has done. See St Jospeh Michigan pharmacist shoots back at robbers.

  13. avatar BambiB says:

    Dock the guy a month’s pay for having the gun. Then give him two month’s pay as a reward for deft handling of the situation. That way they “enforce” their “no guns” policy, while rewarding the guy for using his gun properly.

    Yeah, I don’t like the first part either, but if you have to soak off the lawyers, this is a relatively painless way to do it.

  14. avatar TSgt B says:

    This reminds me of K-Mart and 9/11. On a day when K-Mart should have been considering giving guns away to law-abiding Americans, they (K-Mart) locked them up instead. Rifles, shotguns, BB guns, ammo, bow, arrows, slingshots – you couldn’t buy any at K-Mart, period.
    That was the impetus for the boycott that led to K-Mart filing bankruptcy. I was one of the organizers that got the ball rolling in Ohio. The same would work for Kroger’s, should they decide to discipline this heroic manager. The politicians may believe we are shills, but money talks, whule bullSh!t takes the train.

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