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Jury Orders Target to Pay $1 Million for Firing Soldier

A federal jury in Portland, Ore., has ruled that Target Corp. must pay almost $1 million to a National Guardsman the retailer fired after he returned from a two-week service. The jury found that Target demoted James Patton when he tried to come back to his old job and that they had retaliated against him when he complaine dof being demoted. Patton’s complaint had alleged that Target hired him in the summer of 2000 as part of its "executive team" and assigned him to its distribution center in Albany, Ore. He claimed that he had consistently received positive reviews while he was with the company and that he joined the National Guard after Sept.11 attacks. After returning home from active duty, Patton was demoted and eventually fired in July of 2003. While jurors agreed with Target that Patton's demotion had nothing to do with his military service, it did find that the company retaliated against him for involving the National Guard in the employment dispute. Patton v. Target Corp., No. 03-1722 BR, verdict returned (D. Or. June 15, 2007).