WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit today on behalf of Michael Schutz, a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, against the city of Truman, Minn. The lawsuit alleges that Truman violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) by failing to properly reemploy Schutz and unlawfully moving to terminate his employment as a full-time police officer after he returned from military service in Kuwait.
Subject to certain conditions, USERRA requires employers to promptly reemploy returning service members in the positions they would have held had their employment been not interrupted by military service or in a position of like seniority, status and pay. In addition, employers may not retaliate against servicemember employees seeking to exercise their rights under USERRA.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, upon Schutz’s honorable discharge from military service, Truman did not reemploy him in his pre-service position as a full-time police officer. The complaint also alleges that Truman retaliated against Schutz after he filed his USERRA claim by placing him on administrative leave for approximately three weeks and issuing him a notice of intent to terminate his employment shortly thereafter.
In representing Mr. Schutz, the Justice Department is seeking the lost wages and benefits that Schutz would have received if Truman had reemployed him in his pre-service position as the law requires and injunctive relief relating to Truman’s retaliation against Schutz for exercising his USERRA rights.
The complaint also seeks double damages because the defendants’ actions constituted a willful violation of USERRA. The case will be litigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office based in Minneapolis.
“The men and women who wear our nation’s uniform need to know that they do not have to sacrifice their job at home in order to serve our country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to aggressive enforcement of USERRA to protect the rights of those who, through their bravery and sacrifice, secure the rights of all Americans.”
“Just as our dedicated men and women of the military protect our freedoms overseas, we must protect their interests here at home,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones. “These soldiers have made many sacrifices, and we cannot allow the loss of a career or appropriate pay when they return home.”
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has given high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights under USERRA. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s websites at www.justice.gov/crt/emp and www.servicemembers.gov , as well as on the Labor Department’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm .