WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that it has entered into a consent decree with the city of Marion, Ala., that, if approved by the U.S. District Court in Mobile, Ala., will resolve the Department’s lawsuit filed against Marion on behalf of Cynthia Y. Davis, a member of the state’s Army National Guard.
The complaint filed in July 2008 alleged that the city of Marion violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) by failing to reinstate Davis in her dispatcher position in the city’s police department following her return from basic training in August 2007. The Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service had investigated Davis’ complaint, determined that it had merit and, upon completion of conciliation efforts, referred the matter to the Justice Department.
Enacted by Congress in 1994, USERRA requires employers to promptly reemploy returning service members in the positions they would have held had their employment not been interrupted by military service, or in positions of like status, seniority and pay.
The consent decree requires Marion to reemploy Davis as a full-time dispatcher at the rate of pay and with the amount of seniority and benefits she would have earned had she remained continuously employed by the city until the present, including during the time of her active duty service in the Alabama National Guard. Since Davis is to be reemployed by the city as a full-time dispatcher, she is also guaranteed a full-time dispatcher position with the Perry County, Ala., Emergency Communication District when Marion’s full-time dispatchers are transferred to the Perry County Emergency 911 Board on or about July 1, 2009. As a full-time Perry County Emergency 911 Board dispatcher, Davis will receive a higher wage and better benefits than she had received as a city of Marion employee.
"Service members should not fear being penalized in their civilian careers because they make the decision to join the military," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This agreement demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to the vigorous enforcement of federal laws that protect the employment rights of men and women who serve our country in the military."
The Department’s Civil Rights Division has given a high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights under USERRA. It has filed 16 lawsuits and obtained 18 settlements under USERRA on behalf of service members in 2009. Additional information about the enforcement of USERRA can be found on the Justice Department Web sites http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp and http://www.servicemembers.gov, and on the Labor Department’s Web site at http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.