PITTSBURGH — A member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard has sued Target Corp., saying he was wrongly fired from one of the chain's Pittsburgh-area stores for violating its "no-call, no-show" policy while he was on a two-week training assignment in Virginia.
Andrew Lanier claims in the federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Pittsburgh that he told his supervisors about the training duty in October 2011 only to be told when he returned that he was fired for not calling off each and every day he was gone.
Lanier said in an interview that the two-week training was to prepare him for active deployment to Iraq, an assignment that was scrubbed the same day he was fired from Target, leaving him with no job.
"I was pretty upset," Lanier said. "It forced me to lose my job and my car because I didn't have a job to go back to."
Lanier and his attorneys contend that his firing violates the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which is meant to safeguard the civilian jobs of military personnel who are called away for mandatory duties.
"A promise has been made to protect the jobs of those who have chosen to honorably serve in this country's military reserves and this lawsuit is intended to ensure that such promise is kept," attorney Timothy O'Brien said in a statement.
Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the Minneapolis-based retail chain is "committed to following all federal, state and local laws" and "guarantees certain benefits to military service members that go above-and-beyond what is required by the law."
That said, Target was just contacted about Lanier's claims recently. "While the store has no record of his request for time off, we are exploring his concerns," Snyder said, adding that "under no circumstances are team members participating in military service required to call in daily."
Lanier, 21, who now lives in Toronto, Ohio, is seeking at least $75,000 in damages, including back pay and reinstatement, said that wasn't his experience.
Lanier was hired by target in April 2011 and worked at its store in North Fayette Township, a Pittsburgh suburb. His mandatory training was at Fort Pickett, Va. Lanier contends he was fired the day after it ended and told he had violated the "no call, no-show" policy "by failing to notify Target on each day of his military leave that he would be absent from work on that day due to such leave."
Lanier contends he had previously told his team leader and at least two store managers that he was required to report for duty in Virginia as well as notifying Target through its electronic time-off request system, the lawsuit said. Finally, Lanier said he gave a copy of his active duty pre-deployment training to store managers.
Michael Kraemer, another of Lanier's attorneys, called Target's actions "an extraordinarily blatant violation of federal and state law" given how many managers were allegedly informed of Lanier's leave.
Lanier said he's applied for about 20 jobs since but has been called for just one interview and remains unemployed. Lanier plans to re-enlist for active duty soon.
"It's actually just an awesome job to be a soldier," Lanier said.