Patrons, peers rally behind fired Huck’s employee (updated)

Roger Junkin says the Huck’s employee handbook includes no mention of a requirement to wear a Huck’s hat.

(Updated 12:16 p.m. 8/15/14)

By JONATHAN STREETMAN
Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — The CEO of a chain of convenience stores is disputing claims that an employee at one of the company’s locations in Jasper was fired for wearing an unauthorized hat during work.

Huntingburg resident Roger Junkin, 63, said Thursday he was terminated because he wore the U.S. Air Force hat he usually dons while working in the Huck’s along Third Avenue south of the Patoka River bridge.

Todd Jenney, CEO of Martin & Bayley, the parent company of Huck’s Convenient Stores, said this morning that Junkin’s claim that he was terminated for wearing the wrong hat is incorrect.

“I will tell you that he was not terminated for wearing an Air Force hat,” Jenney said, declining to comment further on Junkin’s termination because of legalities.

In an email Thursday afternoon, Jenney commended his company’s dedication to the military and noted southern Indiana division manager Kirk Dixon’s service record.

“What I can tell you is we are a great company that is 100 percent employee-owned. We have been in business for over 40 years and love Jasper, Indiana,” Jenney wrote. “We have policies and procedures like every other organization in business. We encourage ... any and all branches of the armed force to come to work at Huck’s. Kirk Dixon is a veteran officer that has fought in a recent conflict for our great (U.S. Air Force). We have supported our local veterans associations and active military with goodies and care packages and more over owe our freedom to those who have served.”

Photo courtesy Huck's
Huck's posted this photo of division manager Kirk Dixon on their Facebook page.

This morning, Jenney again expressed Huck’s dedication to the military.

“Some of our best associates are from the military,” Jenney said. “We love them. We hire them. We’ll continue to hire them. I can’t even express how much we love the military.”

Huck’s today posted a statement on its Facebook page.

“Kirk is very humble, as are most veterans, and doesn’t make any of his accomplishments public,” the statement reads. It notes that Dixon is an Air Force veteran having served 10 years, including as a mission commander flying fighter jets in Operation Desert Storm. The statement also included a picture of Dixon during his time of service.

Huck’s is an employee-owned company that employs more than 1,200 people in 113 stores through Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.

As of this morning, Junkin said he has not been contacted regarding his termination or given a reason for being fired other than insubordination related to not removing his hat.

The Huck’s employee handbook includes no mention of a requirement to wear a Huck’s hat. Company rules state that employees must wear an official Huck’s shirt and keep a clean and presentable appearance.

Junkin said he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968 until 1977, at which point he entered the Indiana National Guard until 1980. He currently collects Social Security and has said he would like to return to the part-time job.

(Earlier: 8/14/14)

By JONATHAN STREETMAN
Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — Employees and patrons of a local Huck’s convenience store are supporting an employee who says he was fired Tuesday for wearing a personal baseball hat to work.

Huntingburg resident Roger Junkin said he was terminated because he wore the U.S. Air Force hat he usually dons while working in the business along Third Avenue south of the Patoka River bridge.

The store has a sign on the front window welcoming home veterans from all branches of military, declaring “If you need a job and we have one, it can be yours!”

Fellow employees and friends have shown support for Junkin, 63, since his termination. He said a few people have posted on their Facebook pages and on the Huck’s store page in his support, and regular customers have asked for contact information to voice their displeasure with the company.

Junkin said he showed up about an hour early for his shift Tuesday to prepare for the afternoon rush, as he’s done most days for the year he’s worked at the store. He was wearing his Air Force cap and red, white and blue suspenders, as is his norm.

A sign on the front of the store welcomes veterans to apply for open positions.

District manager Kirk Dixon was at the store Tuesday when he noticed Junkin’s cap.

“He asked where my red Huck’s cap was and I said it was in my truck,” Junkin said this morning. “He asked if I was going to wear it and I said, ‘No, I’ve got this one.’”

Junkin said Dixon approached him about 20 minutes later and informed him, “I’m terminating you.”

“I don’t see any reasoning behind it, just because I was wearing my Air Force cap,” Junkin said.

The Huck’s employee handbook includes no mention of a requirement to wear a Huck’s hat. Company rules state that employees must wear an official Huck’s shirt and keep a clean and presentable appearance.

Huck’s is an employee-owned company that employs more than 1,200 people in 113 stores through Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.

“I think it’s bull crap,” an employee said this morning, confirming the belief that Junkin’s firing stemmed from wearing his cap.

Junkin said he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968 until 1977, at which point he entered the Indiana National Guard until 1980.

“I am military through and through. I’m proud of what I did,” Junkin said, choking up as he added that customers often shake his hand and thank him for his service. “I really appreciate that.”

Junkin has attempted to reach Dixon and others at the Huck’s corporate office in Carmi, Ill., but has not been able to speak to anyone. Junkin wants to return to work at the Jasper store. He collects Social Security benefits and enjoyed the nature of the part-time job.

“I met people from all walks of life. I loved the people. That was the job for me,” Junkin said. “I’d like to have my job back, yes. No doubt about it.”

The Herald was unable to contact Dixon before presstime.

Contact Jonathan Streetman at jstreetman@dcherald.com.