(WXYZ) — Fired for enforcing the governor’s face mask order?
That’s the center of a lawsuit filed against PetSmart in Midland. The store's former assistant manager said he called police to help enforce Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s mask order because he was concerned for his safety.
Face masks have been the center of safety measures, controversy, and even violence. Many restaurant and retail employees are responsible for enforcement, even knowing if or when, asking someone to put on a mask, could lead to violence.
This summer, a Macomb County woman was accused of attacking a worker after refusing to wear a mask.
One person was left dead in Lansing after a face mask dispute. And in Flint, a Family Dollar security guard was murdered for attempting to enforce a face mask policy.
Calvin Munerlyn, 43, was shot in the head after asking a family to put on a mask before entering the store.
Attorney Jennifer McManus said those headlines were on the top of her mind when Alex Brothers saw a customer wasn't wearing a face mask on July 19.
“Because the man was openly carrying a weapon, my client decided the smartest course of action was to contact law enforcement about the fact the man was not wearing a mask, as required under the governor's executive order,” says McManus.
She says Midland Police escorted the man out of the store without incident.
Two days later, Brothers was fired.
“He was told, ‘Well, we know you feel really strongly about this mask issue,’ and that was said during the termination meeting,” McManus said.
Brothers had worked for PetSmart since 2015 and had an excellent performance record.
“Not only was Alex enforcing the governor's executive order, but he was attempting to enforce the store's own policy,” McManus said.
Now, he is out of a job and suing PetSmart for wrongful termination.
“Terminating your employee for trying to do their job in these unprecedented times is really unconscionable,” McManus said. “It’s an untenable position where these employees are choosing between their safety and their paychecks.”
PetSmart released the following statement:
As a practice, PetSmart does not comment on pending litigation.