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Wrongful Termination Case Concerning National Guard Status

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A recent wrongful termination case draws questions on whether an employer has the right to terminate an employee based on time conflicts associated with being a part of the national armed services.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Brandon Watkins, who is serving overseas with his 278th National Guard unit, has accused the company Rent-A-Center East Inc. of discriminating against him because of his National Guard status. Mr. Watkins claims that he was also wrongfully discharged from his position at the Sevierville Rent-A-Center store. He claims that he was terminated because of his service in the Tennessee National Guard.

Rent-A-Center, a Texas based company, is starting to face legal trouble based on this wrongful termination claim. The lawsuit that has been filed with the U.S District Court. Employment lawyer Keith Stewart filed a lawsuit against the company on behalf of Mr. Watkins. According to court documents, the plaintiff is seeking $650,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. It will be up to a jury to determine whether the damages should be imposed upon the defendant.

An attorney with the National Guard told the Knoxville News Sentinel that Mr. Watkins' job status was protected under various state and federal laws governing military service.

Mr. Watkins claims that his supervisors at Rent-A-Center Inc. had objected to his mandatory weekend drills; saying they were "inconvenient and disruptive." He says that he was already an active member of the Guard when he was hired with the company. Court documents say that he was terminated from his position in July 2009.

Related Resources:

  • Wrongful Termination Claims (FindLaw)
  • Ten Things to Think About: Wrongful Discharge (FindLaw)
  • Texas Employment Lawyer Directory (FindLaw)

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