BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – A former Books-A-Million executive says in a lawsuit filed today that the company fired him last month because of his service in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Douglas G.
Markham, who was fired in September from his job as executive vice president and chief administrative officer with Books-A-Million, filed the civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Birmingham. The lawsuit claims he was fired in violation of the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
That act guarantees an employee can’t be discriminated against, or fired, based on their service in the military. The lawsuit also names Clyde B. Anderson, executive chairman at Books-A-Million, and Terrance G.
Finley, CEO of the company, as defendants in the case. “Books-A-Million supports its employees’ military service,” company spokesman Jeff Skipper stated in an email response to the lawsuit. “We regret that Mr. Markham has filed suit contending that the Company ended his employment because he served our country,” Skipper said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Books-A-Million eliminated his position as a cost-saving measure, after prior notice to, and input from, Mr.
Markham. Books-A-Million supported his military career throughout his employment. Mr.
Markham’s lawsuit is without merit, and Books-A-Million looks forward to defending its actions in court.” Markham was originally recruited by Books-A-Million in 2006 from Saks Inc. in Jackson, Mississippi to join the book store at its chief financial officer. The lawsuit states that in that job Markham, among other things, saved the company millions of dollars.
In the fall of 2008 Markham was notified that he was being deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom. He has been in the U.S. Navy Reserve since 1990 _now holding the rank of captain _ and Books A Million knew of his military service when they hired him, according to the lawsuit.
Markham deployed for a seven-month tour of duty in January 2009. Markham served as the officer in charge of the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office of the Defense Logistics Agency at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. “He was responsible for approximately $450 million of non-weapon inventory, and was charged with the mission to either re-utilize or demilitarize excess property returned from United States forces, primarily in Iraq,” the lawsuit states. Markham was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal by the U.S.
Department of Defense for his service, the lawsuit states. Before he left for military service he helped develop a leadership plan for Books-A-Million during his absence, according to the lawsuit. Another man was appointed as interim chief financial officer.
During his deployment, Markham kept in touch with the company, including helping review reports, according to the lawsuits. Markham returned from service one month early after he was requested by Anderson to cut his deployment short, the lawsuit states. When he returned Markham developed a plan, at Anderson’s request, in which the interim chief financial officer would keep that job and Markham took the new title of Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Secretary. “However, shortly after Markham assumed his new position, Anderson became increasingly hostile and resentful towards Markham, particularly as it related to Markham’s military service,” according to the lawsuit.
After becoming COO on Aug.
29, 2011, Finley began taking responsibilities away from Markham, according to the lawsuit Markham had suffered a heart attack in June of 2011, but had returned to work a month later, the lawsuit states. Finley, in a performance review in April, noted that Markham’s “absences and his choice to continue military service, lead to many more days out of the office, than his position and length of service would warrant. At a time of great change in the company and the industry, this is an ongoing issue,” the lawsuit states.
Updated at 4:03 p.m.
5, 2012 with response from Books-A-Million Follow @krfaulk [email protected]_News