It's important to keep in mind that although the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, § 6 of the Michigan Constitution limit some state interference with an individual’s right to engage in self-defense and bear arms, they do not prevent interference with these rights by private actors.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed that fact and emphasized the limited nature of the public policy exceptions to Michigan’s at-will employment doctrine.
A pharmacist held a Michigan license to carry a concealed weapon. On May 8, 2011, gun-wielding robbers entered the store where the pharmacist was working the overnight shift. After one of the masked robbers pointed a gun at the pharmacist, he drew his concealed weapon and fired it multiple times. Eight days later, he was terminated for violating his company’s non-escalation policy.
The pharmacist filed suit, alleging he was terminated in violation of Michigan public policy for “lawfully exercising his right of self-defense, the defense of others, and to carry a concealed weapon.” The trial court dismissed his case and the Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding the pharmacist’s assertion that seven sources of public policy supported his claim was without merit.
In particular, the Sixth Circuit rejected the pharmacist’s argument that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, § 6 of the Michigan Constitution supported his public-policy claim, confirming that under Michigan law, constitutional provisions may not be the source of a claim for termination in violation of public policy against a private employer.
In addition, the Sixth Circuit also found the pharmacist’s argument that the Michigan Self-Defense Act supported his claim unpersuasive. According to the Sixth Circuit, although the laws cited related to self-defense, they do not “confer” a general right to engage in self-defense.
The Sixth Circuit analogized its rejection of the Self-Defense Act as a basis for a public-policy claim to its earlier decision in Casias v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where it rejected the argument that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (“MMMA”) supported a public-policy claim. In that case, the Sixth Circuit held that the MMMA “does not impose restrictions on private employers,” but rather protects only against state action.
A member of the firm's Bloomfield Hills office, Courtney L. Nichols serves as Co-Leader of Plunkett Cooney's Labor and Employment Law Practice Group.
Ms. Nichols focuses her litigation practice in the area of employment law ...
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