FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2005
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES LAWSUIT TO DEFEND THE EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF AIR FORCE RESERVIST
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Gulfstream Academy of Aeronautics, as well as several individual defendants, alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleges that the defendants violated USERRA when they fired reservist Hugh Villalobos because of his service in the Air Force Reserve.
“The Justice Department will defend the civilian employment rights of the men and women who work so hard to protect this country,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We have a duty to our military men and women to honor their legal right to not be discriminated against as a result of military service defending our nation.”
The complaint alleges that the defendants fired Villalobos in May 2002, within hours of the reservist reminding his employer about his upcoming 5-day active duty tour with the Air Force Reserve. Villalobos’ firing occurred shortly after he completed a two-year leave of absence from the Air Force Reserve, which Villalobos took because he feared that his military service would be the basis for employment problems with the defendants.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed after Mr. Villalobos’s complaint, filed with the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor, was referred to the Justice Department. USERRA protects the reemployment rights of service members or veterans upon their return to civilian life from active duty. This is the fourth USERRA complaint filed on behalf of service members or veterans by the Justice Department since the Civil Rights Division received enforcement authority of USERRA in September 2004. To learn more about USERRA, go to http:www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.