A former Walgreens pharmacist claims in a lawsuit that the drugstore chain discriminated against him because he was an outspoken critic of its labor practices. The attorney who is handling his case, Michael J. Siemce, says he was fired in 2021 for asking Walgreens management to increase staffing during peak hours of the day and calling to complain about long waiting times for prescriptions. In a related matter, he is accusing the company of withholding medication reorder data from employees.
The dispute is one of several lawsuits in recent years against large retailers including Wal-Mart and Target. Walgreens is scheduled to trial beginning in January. Mr. Siemce’s case is in a class-action suit, and he is seeking damages on behalf of other employees who have been wrongfully terminated. At trial, a lawyer for Walgreens will attempt to prove that the labor practices at its stores violates state and federal labor laws.
A lawyer for Target says the complaints in his client’s lawsuit are unfounded. “Mr. Siemce’s attorney is claiming that Target was guilty of permitting its employees to become engaged in manual processing of requests for medications without regard to whether the request is valid or not. However, Target has never permitted its employees to perform such activities,” the company said in a statement. “Based on our understanding of the complaint, we believe that this activity may have occurred in one case but not in another case.” Neither the retailer nor the union is making any admission of wrongdoing.
Another case involves a former pharmacy employee suing her former employer, Wal-Mart, after filing a whistle-blowing claim. The lawyer representing the former employee, Nicole Petrucci, is accusing the company of disciplining her for complaining about poor work conditions. The dispute is in pre-trial proceedings. No verdict has been issued yet in the lawsuit.
The union representing pharmacists at Walgreens is challenging the methods used by store workers when stocking products. Specifically, they are challenging the claim that pharmacists should only fill prescription prescriptions filled by doctors and that they have no authority to order refill medications. In an article posted on the Warehouse Workers Union’s website, pharmacists say they routinely ask customers if they have a doctor’s prescription. They also check for identification. The article quotes several pharmacists who claim these methods are designed to protect them from theft and abuse.
A lawyer for Target says some claims in the Walgreens pharmacist lawsuit are based on misunderstandings. “The company wants to make it clear that it does not arbitrarily hire employees based on whether they are male or female, have a prescription history or a prior alcohol-related incident,” said spokesman Rossie Weintraub. He added that Target continually monitors its workforce and has a zero tolerance policy for inappropriate hiring. Weintraub added that the company is aware of one incident in which an employee was fired for stealing.