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Former Schnuck Markets president Anthony Hucker has has sued the St. Louis-based supermarket chain and its chief executive, alleging that he was fired without cause a year ago after being offered the CEO job at Save-A-Lot.
Hucker, now COO of Florida-based Southeastern Grocers, accuses Schnucks and CEO Todd Schnuck of intentionally interfering with his employment prospects after Schnuck refused to waive a noncompete agreement that Hucker signed when he was hired, according to a lawsuit filed late last month, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Schnucks spokesman Paul Simon told PG that the company is aware of the lawsuit but doesn't comment on pending litigation. Hucker didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Competitor or Not?
When Hucker was offered the CEO position at St. Louis-based Save-A-Lot (at the time owned by Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu Inc.), he asked Schnuck to waive his noncompete agreement, according to the lawsuit. After a meeting with Schnuck, Hucker emailed Schnuck to say that he was willing to remain at Schnucks if the grocer refused to waive the noncompete agreement, the lawsuit contends.
According to the lawsuit, Schnuck never responded, and Hucker alleges that he was then fired without cause or severance in November 2015, which Hucker’s attorney, Jerome Dobson, said caused Hucker to lose the Save-A-Lot job, resulting in “lost wages, benefits of employment and other employment compensation.”
While noncompete agreements typically forbid an employee from taking another job at a competitor, Hucker doesn’t view hard-discounter Save-A-Lot as a competitor to Schnucks, the Post-Dispatch reported.
Hucker was promoted to president of Schnucks in September 2014, the retailer’s first nonfamily member to hold that position. Hucker previously held executive posts at Aldi, Walmart and Giant Food before joining Schnucks in 2013.
Dobson didn't specify an exact figure that Hucker is seeking, but said that it was in excess of $100,000, the Post-Dispatch reported.
Founded in 1939, Schnuck Markets has 99 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa.