WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (DMHMR), alleging that it refused to promptly reemploy a serviceman returning to work in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires that individuals who leave their jobs to serve in the U.S. military be timely reemployed by their civilian employers in the same position, or in a comparable position to the position that they would have held had they not left to serve in the military.
"The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protects men and women from being disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service in the armed forces," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing federal laws that protect the employment rights of men and women who are serving in the military."
Today’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Ala., alleges that the DMHMR violated USERRA by failing or refusing to promptly reemploy Roy Hamilton upon his return from military service. Mr. Hamilton was deployed to Iraq in July 2004. Upon his completion of active duty in April 2005, Mr. Hamilton received an honorable discharge and contacted the DMHMR to seek immediate reemployment. The DMHMR did not offer Mr. Hamilton reemployment, nor did the DMHMR contact Mr. Hamilton about reemployment until he applied for an open position and was rehired as a new employee in August 2007.
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has given a high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights under USERRA. In 2008, the Division's Employment Section filed a record high number of USERRA suits. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department Web site at: www.servicemembers.gov and www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp.