--Justice Department accuses a Home Depot store of illegal firing a National Guard soldier
--Home Depot is disputing the allegations; claims person was fired based on performance
(Updates with response from Home Depot, fresh stock quote.)
The Justice Department accused a Home Depot Inc. (HD) store in Arizona of illegally firing a National Guard soldier because he took too many absences to fulfill his service obligations.
In a complaint filed with Arizona's U.S. District Court, the department said Home Depot violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act when it fired Iraq War veteran Brian Bailey in 2010. At least one manager who had allegedly complained about Bailey's periodic absences took part in the decision to fire him, the department said.
A Home Depot spokesman disputed the allegations, saying the store's management fired Bailey based on his performance on the job.
"Mr. Bailey was terminated for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason, and our records show that he was continuously provided time off for military service and training when he requested it," the spokesman said.
Bailey was honorably discharged before joining the California Army National Guard, the department said. He also took a job at a Flagstaff, Ariz., Home Depot store in 2007 and later became a department supervisor, the complaint said.
The department is seeking an undisclosed amount of wages and benefits Bailey lost due to his termination, according to the complaint.
Shares rose 1.5% to $50.62 Thursday and were lightly traded after hours. The stock has climbed 35% over the past year.
-By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909; [email protected]