Army National Guardsman sues Target, claims he was fired while preparing for deployment
Andrew Lanier remembers well the date that Target fired him from his stock job at its North Fayette store: Oct. 31, 2011.
That’s the day he learned his mission was canceled after two weeks of training at Fort Pickett, Va., as part of his preparation for deployment to Iraq.
“I lost everything,” the former Sewickley man said on Wednesday during an interview in Timothy O’Brien’s Downtown law office.
Unable to pay rent or keep his car running, he moved back home to Toronto, Ohio, and started looking for work.
Lanier, 21, claims in a federal lawsuit that Minneapolis-based Target violated state and federal laws by firing him. A manager told him that he was fired for violating a “no call, no show” policy that required him to call the store daily to say that he would not be coming in, Lanier said. He seeks lost wages and damages.
Target does not require employees in military training to call in daily, spokeswoman Molly Snyder said.
“This individual last worked for Target in 2011, and we were just contacted about his concerns recently,” she said. “While the store has no record of his request for time off, we are exploring his concerns.”
During his training in Virginia, Lanier’s store managers contacted his mother and sister to say that he was going to lose his job. When he reached Fort Indiantown Gap on the next leg of his training, he called the store to find out what was going on, Lanier said.
Before leaving for training, Lanier did what he was supposed to do according to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act to protect his job, said O’Brien, a retired Army National Guard major.
Lanier notified several supervisors, submitted a notification through the company’s electronic time-off request system, and provided the store’s management with a copy of his orders, O’Brien said.
“It is such a blatant violation of federal law that it really defies any rational or plausible explanation,” he said.
O’Brien could not say whether other Target employees have experienced this, but he noted that a federal jury in Oregon in 2007 awarded a National Guard major $67,000 in lost wages and $900,000 in punitive damages because Target demoted him when he returned from two weeks of military training.
Michael Kraemer, another attorney representing Lanier, said he contacted the corporation’s lawyers, but they have not shown interest in addressing Lanier’s assertion.
“They basically say, ‘We don’t know anything about this,’ ” Kraemer said.
Lanier joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 2009. He was a diesel mechanic with the 128th Support Battalion, Company B, based out of the Crane Avenue Army when he got his deployment orders.
The Guard since has honorably discharged him, and he intends to enlist in the Army as a military policeman, Lanier said.
“I’m going to make a full career of the military,” he said.
Brian Bowling is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or [email protected].