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Walgreens pharmacist, fired for firing at robbers, fires back with lawsuit

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Back in May, Walgreens pharmacist Jeremy Hoven was working the graveyard shift at the Benton Harbor, Michigan store with three other employees when two masked gunmen ran into the store and attempted a stick-up. As Hoven was dialing 911, one of the gunmen hopped the counter, aimed his piece at him, and, according to Hoven, began "jerking the gun's trigger."

As it turned out, Hoven was packing himself, having procured a concealed-weapon permit after the same store was robbed when he was working there in 2007. So he blasted off several shots, and the failed drugstore cowboys vamoosed right quick.

You would think the company would applaud Hoven for protecting the contents of the cash register, but no. For his troubles, Hoven was terminated a week later for violating Walgreens' "non-escalation policy," as well as company policy that forbids employees from carrying weapons at work.

So now Hoven is suing Walgreens for wrongful termination, arguing that, among other things, his constitutional right to bear arms is being violated. And why should he be a defenseless sitting duck when robbers point weapons at him while he's trying to make an honest living? Argued Walgreens spokeswoman Tiffani Washington, "Our policies in this area are created to maintain maximum safety for our customers and employees. Our employees receive very comprehensive training on what to do in the event of this kind of situation… Compliance is safer than confrontation."

It's a tricky situation. Suppose Hoven hadn't had a gun that night and had been shot dead. Does that mean Walgreens would have honored him for obeying company policy by picking up the costs of his funeral? I know I personally would rather be alive and unemployed, than a dead Walgreens martyr. As Hoven's attorney, Dan Swanson, put it, "Companies that do not allow employees to defend themselves put the employee in a position of simply submitting, possibly being killed or if they react in self-defense, being fired. That's a Hobson's Choice that no employee should be placed in."

In their official response to the lawsuit, Walgreens lawyers actually tried to deny that there was even an armed robbery in progress. Judging by the video which Hoven's attorneys released in response, the Walgreens lawyers may have to rethink that argument.