Court upholds Walgreens’ firing of pharmacist using handgun

June 12, 2014

A federal appeals court has ruled in Walgreens’ favor regarding a pharmacist who was dismissed after shooting at armed robbers with a legally concealed handgun.

A federal appeals court has ruled in Walgreens’ favor regarding a pharmacist who was dismissed after shooting at armed robbers with a legally concealed handgun.

Citing its non-escalation policy, Walgreens in 2011 fired Jeremy Hoven from its Benton Harbor, Mich., store eight days after shooting at robbers during his overnight shift.

Hoven said he saw a Walgreens manager being pushed toward him by one of the armed robbers. He told authorities that he tried to dial 911, but one of the robbers pointed a gun at him.

Hoven said the robber tried to shoot him, but the suspect’s gun jammed. He said he responded by pulling his handgun and firing at the suspect. No one was injured, and there have been no arrests in the case.

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.

 

Hoven began working at Walgreens as a full-time pharmacist in 2006. He said he asked Walgreens to improve its security measures following a 2007 robbery, but nothing was done. Subsequently, he received a concealed pistol license and starting carrying a gun during his shifts.

In her ruling, Appeals Judge Karen Nelson Moore said Michigan’s Self-Defense Act doesn't grant citizens an unlimited right to engage in self-defense. Rather, she said, it only provides a potential defense to criminal prosecution by the state.

In rejecting Hoven’s self-defense claim, Moore pointed to a case in which the court affirmed Wal-Mart’s firing of an employee who used medical marijuana. In that case, the court ruled that the state’s medical marijuana laws protects citizens against state action, but does not impose restrictions on private employers.