Pharmacist Jeremy Hoven worked at Walgreens in Benton Township, Michigan. After a robbery in 2007, Hoven complained to management about security at the store. While he waited for improvements, Hoven obtained a concealed carry permit. In 2011, at 4:30 a.m. on May 8th, the pharmacist used his concealed firearm to defend himself against armed robbers who’d entered the store, taken a manager hostage and tried to shoot him. It was all captured on a dramatic video [above]. A local police Lt. said . . .

he’d 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 lost the initial court case (it was a federal lawsuit). He 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, 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, his employer could fire him at any time, for any reason. It is not unusual for professionals who 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

69 Responses to Pharmacist Fired for Armed Self Defense Loses Appeal

  1. “Private companies, just like private individuals, have the right to do stupid things.”

    But do they have the right to do dangerous things to their employees? Must someone trying to pay the bills put their life unnecessarily at risk because of a company that doesn’t care about their well-being? We have lots of labor laws and OSHA regulations to the contrary. We try not to allow sweat-shops to exist.

    Maybe these are overreaches and should not be joined by another.But I think it goes beyond a company’s right “to do stupid things” when they tell someone that it would have been better for them to be killed, and because they didn’t let that happen they must be fired.

    • Nobody “took” anything from the pharmacist. He made a deal with the store; he sold his time, his energy, his knowledge and his on-premises gun rights for $150,000 per year. Nobody forced him to do it.

      • Nobody forced those women to work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. If they didn’t want to be locked into a tinderbox and get burned to death they should have been unemployed and starved instead!

        A different scenario but keeping in line with the idea of ‘at will.’ We as a society decided quite some time ago that allowing someone to quit a job is not carte blanche to impose whatever working conditions you please, however ridiculous or needlessly dangerous. Setting that standard would allow terrible conditions in any market where employees are not in high demand. So we don’t let factories lock the doors to keep employees from having smoking breaks. We don’t let employers hire tiny kids to put their hands through dangerous machines. We require safety equipment to be provided.

        We impose lots of conditions on employers to make jobs safer but forget about all of that when it comes to someone being able to defend their person. This is made all the more ridiculous because in this incident the store proved it was incapable of doing it, yet insists the employee make himself incapable as well.

        I don’t know if employers should be forced to allow employees otherwise legally qualified to carry a firearm to do so, but I do know we’re being overly glib to just pretend “at will” are two words than can let businesses do whatever they want, as there are lots of examples where businesses are regulated regardless.

        • How about I come over to your house and tell you what I’m going to do on your property? I’m going to bring the WBC and Phelps crew there to hold a demonstration, right on your front yard. Then, when you complain about what we’re doing, I’ll scream and yell at you for not respecting our first amendment rights and our god given right to free speech without repercussions.

          Sounds stupid doesn’t it? Now you’ll probably get it – private property rights trump just about everything.

        • “impose lots of conditions on employers” See also damn unions. You think that, perhaps, this has caused mass migration/flight of business (in particular productive manufacturing) offshore?

          The solution in this case if Walgreen’s finds it hurts their bottom line by this shortsighted action. Names – WHO at Walgreens fired him or was this a “corp policy”? Who were the corp systers?

          Lesson #1 is to ensure your case doesn’t appear in front of a chickjudge in a socialist state.

        • Neiowa, “at will” employment is a core capitalist precept. There are exceptions, yes, but It is well established at law for decades beyond counting; the trial judge had no discretion to overturn it.

        • Private businesses open to the public are flatly different than private residential property rights.

          Businesses open to the public allow anyone to enter. Private residences may or may not, but are not open to the public.

          The Second Amendment allows me to use efficient means to take personal responsibility to defend myself. It protects the other Amendments as well. It is the codification of a basic human ethical/moral birthright.

          The ability for me to use legally articulatable lethal force to stop the threat of grave bodily harm, crippling injury or death trumps the public business’s right to deny me the choice to use lethal force to protect my basic human right to life. Life is foundational.

          I support a law that allows CC on business property but holds them harmless for any usage thereof.

    • I am sympathetic with the guy also, but he is no different than any of us who can’t carry on the job even though we go dangerous places. I worked a dangerous plain clothes security gig at one time where I was legally authorized to carry, and even encouraged to carry by my boss, but he cautioned that if I ever had to use the gun, I would lose my job no matter what the circumstances, because it was technically company policy.

      At-will employment is at will, period. As far as safety and OSHA are concerned, I don’t know of a standard that says, “this work environment is unsafe due to potential crime due to this accepted measurement________.” BTW, stores generally get security guards when their insurance company tells them they have to, in order to get a certain rate, not to protect employees. If Hoven thought the work environment was unsafe, he could have sued Walgreens while he was still there, although I think he would have lost. He could have also quit. A pharmacist will always find another job. My guess is Walgreens’ competitors probably have the same policy as they do.

      • in the state of florida they passed a law that basically says bring your gun to work meaning your employer can not fire you for having a gun at work

        The law applies to both public and private sector employers, except for certain school properties; state correctional institutions; employers who conduct substantial activities involving national defense, aerospace or domestic security; and employers where the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage or transportation of combustible or explosive materials regulated under state or federal law.

        • The Florida law applies to keeping a gun in your car. It does not extend past the parking lot and into the place of business, sadly.

          I work at an ammunition factory, I’m one of 2 people with the combination and key to the gun vault, and I’ll get fired if I’m caught with a personal weapon in the building.

    • If you think this is stupid, write an old fashioned SHORT letter and bring up the fact that Concealed carry permit holders are more law abiding than the police. They should be proud of this man.
      Let them know that it is way to easy to take your business elsewhere where you will feel safer.
      Be logical, polite, brief or you will just receive a form letter and be ignored.
      Write to:
      Alexander W. Gourlay
      Executive Vice President – President of Customer Experience
      Walgreen Co.
      108 Wilmot Road
      Deerfield, IL 60015

      • I haven’t purchased anything from walgreen’s since this incident happened and won’t until they retract their policy. I support their right to fire anyone for any reason though. Actions have consequences.

    • Labor laws make sense when the labor market is not competitive. That is, dominated by one or a few large employers; When the pharmacist had no choice but to accept the terms. Who in their right mind would put themselves at risk? If they had trouble finding employees they’d change the policy, or add security.

      The question here is whether Walgreens was the only game in town.

      • Its true that there are a few large pharmacy retail chains that dominate the market, but pharmacists are in incredible demand. From the time that you enter graduate studies for a Pharm.D. degree the major chains all try to wine and dine you into signing on with their company once you get out. Pharmacies in rural areas have difficulty convincing pharmacists to move out there, and so they get huge signing bonuses with higher rates of pay. It wouldnt be difficult for pharmacists to put their collective foot down and force a retail giant to adopt better safety protocols, or enable a retail giant to quietly allow chls. The APHA, has a lot of lobbying power, but seems to be focused solely on having pharmacists considered health care providers under the law, not safety. Walgreens has a really bad reputation among pharmacists i know. The difficulty however would be convincing the APHA or pharmacists as a whole to back 2nd amendment rights. Most pharmacists wouldnt take much convincing.

        I know all this because my sister is a pharmacist, and my mother us a pharmacy technician of 15 years. My sister has worked at pharmacies that have been robbed at gunpoint literally, everyother night. Fortunately, it never happened during her shift.

        • Here on Long Island a Pharmacy was recently robbed for drugs. It was an ex Army guy and his wife. The wife was in the getaway car. They were both drugged up at the time and only lived a few blocks from the Pharmacy.
          He killed the Pharmacist and three customers indiscriminately with a legally licensed firearm.
          Drugs have become a real problem around here and I would not want to work anywhere where there are drugs.
          A pure Pharmacy is probably more likely to be the target of druggies looking for more.

  2. 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 lost the initial court case (it was a federal lawsuit). He appealed to the Sixth Circuit. On 2 June, 2014, Sixth Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore ruled against him and in favor of Walmart.

    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.

    WTF WALMART?how did they get involved?

  3. Ive have done exactly what he did. From step one through to the courts decision.
    I too don’t agree with Walgreens policy but then as an at will employee………….
    so be it.
    He did the right thing at the time. He is still here to talk about it and so is the manager.
    What else really is more important??
    Nothing, the long term results speak for themselves.
    If I were him. I could live with myself proudly.

    • I don’t want walgreens to live with themselves proudly. They put their employees at personal risk and fired one for saving the lives of himself and two others.

  4. Even for at-will employees, it is unlawful to fire them for a “bad” reason, even if you need no reason at all. In Michigan, an employer could not fire an at-will employee for being gay (even if that fact was concealed during the hiring process). An employer could not fire an at-will employee for being a muslim. And yet it is okay to fire someone for exercising this particular constitutionally-protected right. I question the consistency of this doctrine.

    In any event, Mr. Hoven is alive today. I doubt he would go back and do it any differently.

    • It’s not particularly inconsistent, if you look at it this way: it’s not okay to fire someone for something that they are: gay, female, black, religious, etc. It is generally okay to fire someone for something that they do, in this case, violating the company’s firearms policy. You and I might think that’s a boneheaded policy, but unless Walgreens failed to communicate the rules to this guy, he really doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on. It’s not much different than firing him for saying things in the workplace that the employer doesn’t agree with. Yes, you have a right to free speech – but not necessarily on someone else’s private property.

      • Then we need to eliminate anti discriminatory hiring policies as well. The right to self defense is as sacred (if not more) than the right to be a homosexual. Bet Walgreen’s or any other company could not have an anti gay policy then get away with firing someone for coming out.

      • If he made the claim that his religious beliefs compelled him to protect himself with a gun than a case could be made that he was fired over his religious beliefs.

    • “Bad things” means discrimination based on the usual suspects, race, religion, national origin, sexual preference. It also means engaging in protected activity (unionizing, whistle blowing, complaining about unsafe or illegal workplace conditions/sexual harassment). That is pretty much the whole list. our first and second amendment rights are protected against government interference, not limitation or elimination by a private employer. End of story. Unless someone changes the law, and I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

      • That’s the list at this time. Now, how did each criteria get on that list? Somehow, our society concluded that the criterion ought to be added to the list. On each occasion, the decision was controversial. Congress, or a State legislature, debated and the “pro” side pushed it through. Some decades later, society began to develop a consensus. In some cases, that consensus might break-down to a majority, then a minority. Thereafter, the law might change back removing the criteria from the list. (This might be occurring with “affirmative action”.)
        I don’t think we should expect the courts to reverse society’s decision. It’s up to us, the People, to work this out and communicate our preferences to our legislators. If we are libertarians and conservatives then we should be hesitant to seek government to intervene. That should not mean never seeking government intervention; just hesitation.
        Unfortunately, our society is not yet ready to impose 2A rights into the employer/employee relationship. Before that could happen I would expect society to first impose 2A rights into the business/customer relationship; i.e., to prohibit gun-free businesses. That hasn’t happened much either.
        2A rights in the employer’s parking lot is a step. 2A rights in the employer’s locker-room would be another. (E.g., for nurses working the night shift who must transit from the parking lot to the hospital.) Then, maybe, to 3’rd shift gasoline station attendants; and so forth.
        Too many of us are too quick to jump to a black/white conclusion; to construe something a “right” and decide that one such right “obviously” trumps some other “right”. If any such thinking were self-evident truth we would already have a consensus; obviously, we don’t.
        I’m encouraged when I read a comment that tries to analyze such dilemmas. I don’t learn anything from comments that simply say one right necessarily trumps another right “PERIOD”.

  5. And if he had been killed or injured it would be a workers comp case with a cap on damages. Long run it costs them less to let you be killed than risk a civil suit for wrongful termination. Heaven forbid you only wound the scum then he or family will sue for millions. With the courts these days you defend yourself you are screwed.

    • You hit the nail on the head. At the end of the day, all of these corporate policies banning employees from defending themselves have nothing to do with what’s best for them, “de-escalation” or the presumed safety of complying with criminals. It’s all about the bottom line and limiting their exposure to litigation. If a criminal murders an employee, the store can almost certainly not be held liable. If an employee shoots a criminal, regardless of the circumstances, they are still exposed to liability for the employee’s actions.

  6. At will….Nice to see not only government gets a pass for not defending its citizens. Big B gives a whole harty TFB and bye bye when you save your managers life.

  7. I believe I mentioned this earlier to the folks @ TTAG.

    Unfortunately, in Michigan, you can’t fire someone for being fat, but you can for defending themself. Thankfully, my employer no longer allows us to use Walgreens for our pharmaceutical needs.

  8. Just e-mailed the company.

    “My name is Ben. I’m writing you to let you know that, after reading the story of Jeremy Hoven’s firing from your company for defending himself with a firearm, I will no longer be patronizing your stores. I’ll be letting my wife know not to shop at your stores, either, which will bum her out because she really likes your Halloween decorations.
    You have the right to run your business however you see fit. Jeremy Hoven did the right thing and was fired for it.
    I have the right to not spend my money at any business that claims to care about the safety of their employees and customers, yet proves they do not through their actions and policies.

  9. I worked for a business that had a “no guns” policy for its employees. I violated it every day. And if my life had been threatened in the store, getting fired would be the least of my worries.

  10. I stopped shopping at Walgreens years ago because of their refusal to sell gun magazines (Remember them?). The local manager told me the decision was corporate and that was enough for me to take my business elsewhere. We all make choices.

  11. Lost a $150,000 job..but lived and exercised his rights. Sucks losing any job but sucks worse dying and leaving a family to pick up the pieces. Although I 100% agree with what he did and have no problem violating a policy that restricts my rights…but you have to also be willing to handle the consequences of doing so. Not shopping at Walgreens or even protesting will not fix the issue, although that too is your given right and doing so is a decision for one too make and I would not criticize someone who did. At the end of the day, we, you or I have a responsibility (and for some of us outside of certain states the right) to defend our lives against the scum that walks our streets. On the flip side the penalty can be large but for folks like us….worth it. The article doesn’t say whether or not he is employed again so this could also be the result of lawyers pursuing the $$$ more so than him. I hope he found a job again and if so I hope he continues to exercise his rights regardless.

  12. While I agree with your premise that en employer can fire an “at-will” employee, if he had been fired because of his race or religion, and could prove it, the outcome would have been different.

    Just sayin’.

    • Carrying a gun isn’t a race or a religion. It’s not really a reasonable comparison. Further, there are Rights protected from Government infringement by the Constitution. Free speech, gun ownership, no government sanctioned religion, the right to be secure in your private property, and so on….

      Not one of the protected rights is the right to be employed.

      • Huh? You talk about the first amendment but what, forget the second?

        “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

        So yes technically, that is the act of carrying a gun, and both are “reasonable comparisons”. But since this case involves a private individual and company, technically none of those constraints on the Federal Government should apply to this scenario. Curtis was merely pointing out difference of outcry if the company had fired someone practicing 1A compared to the pharmacist practicing his 2A.

  13. I understand the point about private properry, but answer is “it depends.” I dont know much about Benton. If there were only a few employers for pharmacy skills (e.g. a monopoly) the labor market is not competitive. The pharmacist does not have a choice. In that case, Walgreens should not be able to dictate and public policy trumps.

    • I live in a pretty small town (100,000 plus ). At one intersection alone, there is a Walgreen’s, a Rite Aide, a CVS and, right next door to CVS, a Safeway with a pharmacy. And those four are far less than half the pharmacies in town.

  14. Walgreens has the right to make the rules inside of their house. Lawful firearms owners have our right to shop elsewhere. The end.

  15. I don’t have a problem with a company banning their employees from carrying weapons, and I understand the liability issue from the business side. But Hannibal is right above, they are required by OSHA to provide a safe work environment, which they didn’t. OSHA won’t step in here because GUNS!, but what they did is just as bad if not worse than a roofer not providing safety harnesses (e.g.). Pharmacies are prime targets for the worst of the criminal element, and they provided zero security. IMO they had the right to deny him his right to self defense, but when they did, had he been killed, his family had the right to burn Walgreens for a few million dollars in the wrongful death suit and OSHA should step in with a 6 figure fine to boot.

    One of the best weapons the left has used against us is lawfare, it’s time we picked up that tool to use against them. So kudos for the effort anyway.

  16. Chicken shit policy and Walgreens should be ashamed of themselves for firing the guy for protecting himself. Could his family have sued if he was killed while being prohibited from carrying a weapon to defend himself? What a crock. Guess I won’t be shopping a Walgreens anymore.

    • You’ve got to realize that the management at these big corporations would shoot their employees themselves if it would save a dollar.

  17. Bummer.
    At least he’s alive. And being a pharmacist, I would think he can get a job pretty easily. Maybe even one that wasn’t graveyard.

  18. Ya all should read up on Walgreens and the accidental death policies as a source of revenue for their company that they have on their employees and how much money they have made doing so!

    You will never shop in a walgreens again!

  19. Screw the big pharmacy corporations. Go to an independent. Your co-pay is the same either way and you will probably get better service.

  20. I still wonder what would have been the employee carry policy at Kroger’s had Elijah Elliot stayed in their employ in Indianapolis.

  21. What about a civil suit for “failure to provide adequate security/protection” resulting in emotional trauma and related ongoing complications?

    • Worker’s compensation is the exclusive remedy for on the job injuries. And exclusive really means that it is the one and only remedy.

  22. “Walgreens had the right to fire Jeremy Hoven for any reason it wants.”

    Not true.

    It is illegal to fire someone based on race, color, religion, sex, or any other protected class.

  23. I worked as a pharmacy tech in another national chain-retail pharmacy for a year. The carry of weapons for any reason was a big no no, but some of us did it anyway. There were certain times, depending on who was working, in which if we were to get robbed, the robber(s) would have had at least two .45 ACP Sig Sauers of various makes aimed/fired back at them. All the pharmacists on staff were at the very least pro gun, pro self defense, and had been robbed at gunpoint before, with some being full on gun guys who may very well even read this comment. (hey, ____, should we give them those new 230 grain pills?) 😉

    The collective number of given fucks towards company policy vs. our own safety by those of us who carried on the job would never, at any point, exceed zero. My minimum wage pharm tech job (Yes, you read that rite. Excuse me, right.) was expendable and I did not care about losing it. My boss, OTOH, was making six figures, yet still maintained the same attitude.

  24. The guy and the other victims should have sued over inadequate security with a laundry list of the crimes being committed against the victims due to the inadequate security provided to the store.

  25. The Second Amendment states a negative right: “…shall not be infringed [by the government]…” Some of you are confused about that and believe it is a positive right. A positive right is a right that is given to you by the government and enforced by the government. Positive rights are in the coin of the realm “statist” Walgreens has right to fire the guy for violating company policy and you have a right to shop elsewhere for them doing an injustice.

    Many people have noted that coporate gun bans are all about liability and not some sinister anti-gun plot. If an employee, even in the act of legitimate self defense, kills an innocent bystander the company get sued. In many cases failure to post a no guns allowed sign, whether they have the force of law or not, makes the company liable if someone shows up and shoots a bunch of people. Having armed secruity also makes the company liable. That is why they want to rely on the cops. If they have done all the above and someone shoots up the place or the cops kill the wrong person they have no liability.

  26. Employees of the Federal Government face an even worse dilemma. Not only will they likely be fired for bringing an otherwise legally owned firearm to the workplace, they will be prosecuted for it. So a licensed CCW holder or retiree carrying a weapon under LEOSA faces prosecution under federal law for being armed at work. I would rather be fired.

    The madness simply has to stop lest we find ourselves having to wear the right color socks on the right day of the week in a state like New Yuck in order to be legally armed.

  27. Constitutional rights are not always available on private premises while the same premises nearly always claim constitutional rights for themselves…

  28. I would agree with the concept that a private employer has the right to do stupid things such as terminating an employee for something like this if it were not for one HUGE issue. Walgreens refuses to allow it’s employees to defend themselves and mere possession of tools for that purpose let alone the use of them will get an employee terminated. Walgreens ALSO enjoys immunity from damages if an employee is harmed or killed by a violent criminal action in their stores. THIS is the problem. They want to have it BOTH WAYS. They don’t want to be responsible for protecting their employees and customers from harm yet they want the right to force employees to be helpless in the face of crime. THAT IS WRONG. The courts should have allowed this suit to go forward based on THAT issue…that a person has the right to defend themselves if there employer refuses to accept that responsibility and make adequate efforts to insure their safety.

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