WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached an agreement with American Airlines that, if approved by the U.S. District Court in Dallas, will resolve the Department’s class action lawsuit against the nation’s largest commercial air carrier, alleging it violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The Department’s complaint, filed in 2006, alleges that American did not allow three named plaintiff pilots, and a class of similarly situated pilots, to accrue vacation and sick leave benefits while on military leave to the same extent as pilots on comparable forms of non-military leave.
The settlement agreement, if approved by the court, requires that American Airlines pay the class of 353 pilots a total of $345,772 for the loss of vacation and sick leave benefits, and provide currently employed pilots with sick leave credits at an estimated value of $215,000. The settlement agreement also calls for American to modify its existing policies and practices to ensure that, in the future, all pilots who are called to serve in the military will continue to accrue appropriate vacation and sick leave benefits.
“The sacrifices made by our Armed Forces, including military reservists, are invaluable to our nation. No member of the military should be disadvantaged for choosing to serve our country and for answering the call of duty,” said Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey. “The Department of Justice remains committed to protecting the employment rights of all Americans serving in the Armed Forces.”
The lawsuit is the first class action brought by the Department of Justice under USERRA. The Department of Justice filed the lawsuit following a referral from the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) of the Department of Labor.
“The Department of Labor and the Department of Justice are working in tandem to vigorously protect the employment rights of the men and women who bravely serve in America’s armed forces,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “By successfully concluding this first-ever USERRA class action lawsuit, we have helped more than 300 service members who just wanted their benefits back after answering the call to duty.”
Additional information about USERRA can be found at http://www.servicemembers.gov and .