Department of Justice Settles Two Civil Complaints Against Two Employers for Violations of Federal Statutes Relating to Military Reserve Duty
A settlement agreement was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver resolving a complaint alleging that two employers, Delaware Resource Group of Oklahoma LLC (DRG), and FlightSafety Services Corporation (FlightSafety), violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by not paying money into two U.S. Air Force veterans’ 401(k) plans, announced Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez and U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh.
USERRA prohibits employers from discriminating against or taking any adverse employment action against any person because that person has performed service in the uniformed services. USERRA also allows returning service members to make “catch up” contributions to their civilian employers’ 401(k) retirement plans, and receive the employers’ matching contributions that were missed while they were on military leave. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices have given a high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights under USERRA.
The two veterans, Michael J. Sipos and Gary D. Smith, are the plaintiffs in this case. According to the complaint, their employers, DRG and FlightSafety, violated USERRA by not allowing the veterans to make “catch up” contributions to their company’s 401(k) plans upon their return from duty and not matching contributions that the veterans missed while on active duty in the Air Force.
Under the settlement agreement, the defendants, DRG and FlightSafety, will allow the plaintiffs to make their “catch up” contributions to their respective 401(k) plans. In addition, DRG and FlightSafety will provide matching employer contributions to each of the veterans’ 401(k) plans.
“We rely on our servicemembers to protect us, and the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that their civilian employment benefits are protected as well,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez. “The department commends FlightSafety and DRG for agreeing to resolve this matter amicably without contested litigation, which shows a good faith commitment by the companies to ensure that they are in compliance with USERRA.”
The case was litigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan G. Villaseñor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, in collaboration with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. The lawsuit was filed after the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) of the Department of Labor referred Sipos’ and Smith’s complaints to the Justice Department upon completion of its investigation and failed settlement efforts. The Departments of Labor and Justice work cooperatively together to protect the jobs and benefits of National Guard and Reserve service members upon their return to civilian life. More information about USERRA is available at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm .