WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Patrick Anson, a member of the New York Air National Guard, against the New York State Department of Correctional Services (NYSDOCS) alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). Also filed with the complaint is a settlement agreement reached by the Justice Department and NYSDOCS that, if approved by the court, will resolve the United States’ claims on behalf of Anson.
USERRA was enacted in 1994 to protect service members from being disadvantaged in their civilian careers due to serving in the uniformed services. Among other things, USERRA requires that employers provide re-employed service members with “seniority and other rights and benefits determined by seniority that the person had on the date of commencement of service in the uniformed services plus the additional seniority and benefits that such person would have attained if the person had remained continuously employed.”
“I am pleased that we were able to work with the New York Department of Correctional Services to arrive at a resolution that restores Mr. Anson’s rights,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division is committed to vigorously enforcing federal laws that protect the employment rights of men and women who are serving in the military."
The United States’ complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Albany, N.Y., alleges that NYSDOCS violated USERRA by failing to adjust Anson’s seniority after he passed a make-up promotion exam for correction sergeant, thereby denying him the seniority, status, and compensation he would have received but for his service in the military. Anson had been scheduled to take a correction sergeant exam but was not able to do so because he was called to active duty military service on Sept. 11, 2001. Anson later took and passed a make-up exam, and was promoted to correction sergeant. However, NYSDOCS denied him the seniority, status and compensation to which he was entitled. NYSDOCS’ failure to credit Anson with the proper seniority also made him ineligible to take a make-up correction lieutenant exam. If approved by the court, the settlement agreement will provide Anson with the opportunity to take a make-up correction lieutenant exam and to receive all of the seniority, status and compensation merited by his score on that exam.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed after the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor referred a complaint filed by Anson to the Justice Department upon completion of its investigation and unresolved settlement efforts.
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has given a high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights under USERRA. The Department’s suit against NYSDOCS is the fourth USERRA suit brought by the Department within the last two months. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department Web site at: www.servicemembers.gov.