FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2005
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES LAWSUIT TO DEFEND EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF ARMY RESERVIST
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced the filing of a lawsuit against International Ethical Laboratories, Inc. (IEL), alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico, alleges that IEL violated USERRA by denying Benito A. Colon Ortiz re-employment rights upon his return from military service, and by discharging Mr. Colon.
“This lawsuit reflects the Justice Department’s ongoing commitment to ensure that employment rights of the men and women of our military are protected when they return from duty,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “No person should be denied an employment opportunity because of his or her decision to don the nation’s uniform.”
According to the government’s complaint, Mr. Colon served as a sergeant in the Army National Guard from 1991 to 2000. He was hired by IEL as a pharmaceutical sales representative in January 2003. While employed with IEL, Mr. Colon re-enlisted in the Army National Guard in January 2004 and attended its officer basic training course until March 2004. He then sought but was denied re-employment with IEL.
In its complaint, the Justice Department is asking that the court order IEL to reinstate Mr. Colon, pay him for his loss of earnings and pre-judgment interest, and pay him liquidated damages in an amount equal to his lost earnings.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed after the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) of the Labor Department referred Mr. Colon’s complaint to the Justice Department upon completion of its investigation and failed settlement efforts.
This is the second USERRA complaint filed by the Justice Department since the Civil Rights Division received enforcement authority for USERRA cases in September 2004. To learn more about USERRA, go to http:www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.