WASHINGTON - The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against United Airlines Inc., alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Denver, alleges that United Airlines violated USERRA by denying pilot TenEyck LaTourrette employment benefits during his military service. LaTourrette is currently a major serving in the Colorado Air National Guard and a first officer for United Airlines.
The complaint alleges that United Airlines violated USERRA by under compensating LaTourrette’s pension during his military service. Specifically, United based its pension contributions on a minimum monthly schedule, rather than using LaTourrette’s actual schedule during the 12 months preceding his military obligations, as required by USERRA.
Because most pilots work beyond a minimum schedule, United’s actions resulted in an underpayment to LaTourrette and other military reservists’ pensions until United changed its policy to comply with USERRA in November 2010.
“This nation depends upon our reservists to faithfully carry out their military obligations. No members of our armed forces should ever be penalized for answering the call of duty,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The filing of this lawsuit reflects the Civil Rights Division’s continuing commitment to fully protect our uniformed servicemembers’ employment rights under USERRA.”
“We ask the men and women of our armed forces to fight for our country’s freedom and to be willing to risk their lives for that cause,” said John Walsh, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado. “When they return home they should not have to fight to be properly compensated. I would like to recognize the outstanding efforts of the Civil Rights Division for their work to protect the benefits of this service member.”
The Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed after the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) of the Department of Labor referred Major LaTourrette’s complaint to the Justice Department upon completion of its investigation and failed settlement efforts. The Labor Department and Justice Department work cooperatively together to protect the jobs and benefits of National Guard and Reserve servicemembers upon their return to civilian life.
More information about USERRA is available at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.