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Fired manager sues to get his job back

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A Home Depot manager fired for violating company policy by chasing a suspected thief has sued to get his job back and $1.5 million in damages.

Russell Miller of Rutherford County worked as manager of Murfreesboro Home Depot until terminated for chasing the thief Aug. 20, 2007, the lawsuit stated.

He seeks a jury trial, $2.5 million if he doesn’t get his job back or $1.5 million if reinstated and $5 million for punishment damages. His wife, Jennifer, seeks $600,000 in damages.

Attorney Toby Gilley, who represents Miller with attorney Steve Waldron, said Miller filed the lawsuit “to right a wrong.”

Craig Fishel, public relations manager for Home Depot’s Southern Division, stated, “the company will respond to this matter in the appropriate forum.”

The lawsuit stated:

• Miller worked for Home Depot from March 13, 1995 to his termination Aug. 27, 2007. When terminated, he worked as manager for the Home Depot in Murfreesboro.

• When Miller arrived at work Aug. 20, 2007, the head cashier called to report a man struck a soft drink machine with a crowbar outside the building. From her tone of voice, Miller believed the cashier feared for her safety.

• Miller and assistant manager Robert Weiss saw two other employees detaining the suspect who was about 6 feet tall and weighed 180 pounds. When an employee asked for the cash taken from the machine, the suspect tossed the crowbar in a trash can and hurried away with the money. Two employees and Miller chased the suspect until they grabbed him.

• The manager counseled with the suspect, telling him he could stop using drugs and change his life.

He was not a customer of the store.

Murfreesboro Police took the suspect into custody. Police asked Miller for an affidavit for the arrest warrant. Miller obtained permission from the legal department to proceed with the prosecution.

• Later, Miller learned he was the subject of a company investigation. He was terminated Aug. 27.

Miller’s lawsuit stated he acted in concern for his employees, perceiving the suspect to be a threat to employees and customers. Under state law, Miller was justified to use reasonable force to protect employees and property.

His termination to protect others and arrest the suspect “jeopardizes clearly established public policies,” the lawsuit stated.

Gilley said Miller responded because the cashier feared the suspect with a crowbar.

“Rusty Miller instinctively has as we hope everyone would act when a human life is potentially in danger,” Gilley said. “In response, he was terminated.”

Miller offered to help the thief get help for a drug problem, his attorney said.

“How much more compassionate can you get?” Gilley said.

Attached to the lawsuit was the form Home Depot used to terminate Miller.

“Rusty pursued and detained a customer in the parking lot after the customer had broken into the vending machine outside the store,” the document stated. “Rusty’s actions are a violation of our company code of conduct — violation of asset protection policy.”

The document showed Home Depot disciplined Miller within the last year on the job but did not specify why.

Besides the money, Miller seeks back pay plus interest, the value of lost benefits, front pay, damages for humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish, anxiety and the loss of life and reinstatement if possible.

His wife, Jennifer, seeks damages because of her husband’s loss.
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Members Opinions:
March 16, 2008 at 6:00pm
Sure hope Mr. Miller wins his lawsuit. We need more people like him who will step up and do what they think is right when a situation like this occurs. This guy was a thief and Mr. Miller was only doing what his instincts told him to.
March 16, 2008 at 6:00pm
So if a suspect tried to walk out with a 200.00 dollar skill saw Mr. Miller should not had intervened and used the asset protection and besides managers are to be involved with robberies at their stores and assist with disputes between employees and customers. He needs his job back as CEO.
March 16, 2008 at 6:00pm
Barny Fife would have chased down the crook even if Andy disapproved.
March 17, 2008 at 6:00pm
you may not like the way he does business but that's not necessarily a reflection of his personality. Especially since I only know your side of the story. I don't know you either. Based on the situation though I think he should get his job back and compensated for lost wages, but not millions of dollars. Some states have laws that if you stand by and don't do anything, you get arrested for that! I think Home Depot and other business need to just make people sign a waiver for those types of situations but for sure, not be fired for it.
March 17, 2008 at 6:00pm
I don't see him getting the millions he is asking for. He didn't follow compnay policy and lost his job over it. Had the man he chased carried a loaded weapon and took some pot shots at him and killed a few customers, you might have a different view. I can't say how I would react, and unless your in that situation, you can't either. But company rules are set for reasons, even if you don't know what those reasons are. It is cheaper to lose a skill saw than pay for funeral expenses and a settlement for the family of a deceased manager. Chasing crooks is police business call them and let them do the running, several of them need the exercise..lol..just joking on that.

postfan, your post should be deleted. This is no place to call people names...and your post really just makes you look bad.
March 17, 2008 at 6:00pm
Trvlace- At first I was upset at Home Depot for firing a man for trying to help get a crook off the street, but you have made some excellent points that I never thought of. I don't think he will get the millions and don't think he should, but I would like to see him get his job back/a second chance. I agree with you about Postfan. Those comments were not appropriate here. Thanks for setting me straight on letting the police handle the crooks. They do a fine job without my help.
March 18, 2008 at 6:00pm
When you are in a situation like that , its hard to say what you would do. This guy did what he thought was right(and what was right), he protected his employees. The police never get there in time from the donut shack. This guy should get a good settlement( maybe not 1.5 million) but he should get something. Ill never go to Home Depot again
March 18, 2008 at 6:00pm
I just want it cleared up that the person using the 'postfan' name here is NOT the same person that uses the 'postfan' handle on the other paper's forum! I've been using the 'postfan' screen name for over a year and now this person shows up and decides to use it here. C'mon...can't you be a little more creative and find your own name? BTW...I'm 'acdsrool' on this site and 'postfan' on the other! As for the story...I think the guy should get his job back but the damages are severely excessive!
March 18, 2008 at 6:00pm
Trvlace-I ask this because I am confused about some things, so understand I am NOT trying to be a smart@#$....

First, what names did 'postfan', or whoever it is, call this manager in his original comments? I re-read it and didn't see any direct name or indirect implication.

Also, whether or not I agree with postfan's stament is irrelevant-when I read it, it's not that far off from what you have said yourself. Postfan stated :"I am sure he signed some type of waiver acknowledging he understands the policies and rules of the company and penalties for not following them."

And then yours stated: "But company rules are set for reasons, even if you don't know what those reasons are."

So in essence you both pretty much focused on the same thing, so I guess I don't understand what in his post should be deleted.

That's all...just needing clarification
March 18, 2008 at 6:00pm
The post I refered to was deleted or edited. He called the manager a liar in that post. That is slander I think, and illegal in the USA. Also, this is a private forum and you must use it according to the rules and provisions it imposes on users and their posts. He clearly violated those rules. Thank you. Keep it clean!
March 18, 2008 at 6:00pm
I, too, saw postfan's original post and thought it quite nasty. That's the reason I wanted to clarify that I am not the same person that uses that screen name on another forum.
March 19, 2008 at 6:00pm
Thanks for the clarification....sometimes I give up my title as "sharpest knife in the drawer" and thus can miss the obvious! :-)
March 19, 2008 at 6:00pm
I also saw the nasty post, and ACDSROOL- I've seen your posts on here many times and knew right away that it wasn't you!
March 20, 2008 at 6:00pm
Thanks, Boo! I'm glad to know that not everyone will associate me with whoever this 'postfan' is!
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