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A fired Wal-Mart Stores Inc. vice president said Wednesday he wants the U.S. Attorney’s Office to decide whether he deserves protection under a federal whistleblower statute. Jared Bowen lost his job last month as the world’s largest retailer disclosed that its former vice chairman, Tom Coughlin, was leaving the Wal-Mart board and that as much as $500,000 had been misspent. A federal grand jury is looking into the spending. A lawyer for Bowen, Steve Kardell of Dallas, said Bowen declined to approve some expenses submitted by Coughlin and claims the act precipitated Bowen’s firing. “Someone will have to explain to me how that’s not retaliation,” Kardell said in a news release. Bowen had earlier said he wants his job back. Coughlin, through his attorney, has denied any wrongdoing. Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires declined to comment. A spokesman for Bob Balfe, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, also had no comment. The Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart has long held that it has an open-door policy so workers can go over a supervisor’s head to report any impropriety. “Wal-Mart has an obligation to Jared and all employees to create an environment in which people can come forward, report wrongdoing and not worry about retaliation,” Kardell said. “But in this case, Jared came forward, reported wrongdoing, and the company packed up his things and sent him on his way.” Bowen worked 13 years at Wal-Mart, starting as a store cashier. Wal-Mart shares rose 29 cents to close at $47.29 in Wednesday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $46.65 to $59.14. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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