WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit on behalf of Cynthia Y. Davis, a member of the Alabama National Guard, against the city of Marion, Ala., alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Selma, Ala., alleges that Marion violated USERRA by not reinstating Ms. Davis in her civilian employment position as a dispatcher at the Marion Police Department after she returned from basic training. The complaint also alleges that Marion’s violation was willful, and seeks liquidated damages, because Marion’s officials were aware of USERRA’s reemployment requirements and still refused to reemploy Ms. Davis. 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 that they would have held had they not left to serve in the military.
"No person should lose her civilian job for choosing to serve in the military," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice remains committed to fully protecting the employment rights of servicemembers."
The Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed after the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor referred a complaint filed by Ms. Davis under USERRA to the Justice Department upon completion of its investigation and unsuccessful settlement efforts. USERRA provides that the Department of Justice may appear on behalf of, and act as attorney for, persons whose complaints are referred to Department of Justice by the Department of Labor.
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice assumed responsibility for the enforcement of USERRA with respect to state and local governments and private employers in 2004. Since that time, the Division has filed 23 USERRA suits on behalf of servicemembers, including the first-ever federal class action lawsuit under USERRA, Woodall v. American Airlines.
Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.servicemembers.gov, and on the Department of Labor Web site at http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.