WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit in federal court in Michigan alleging that Knight Protective Service Inc., willfully violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by failing to promptly and properly reemploy King A. Gatten, a retired Army servicemember, when he returned from military service.
Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires that individuals who leave their jobs to serve in the military be promptly reemployed by their civilian employers in the same positions, or in positions comparable to the positions that they would have held had they not left to serve in the military. USERRA also requires that civilian employers reemploy returning servicemembers in positions of like pay, status and benefits to the positions the servicemembers would have held if they had been continuously employed by their civilian employers.
The Justice Department’s complaint alleges that Knight unreasonably delayed Gatten’s reemployment for several months after he returned from active military duty and, even after reemploying him, Knight failed to reemploy Gatten as a full-time security guard sergeant – the position he held with Knight before he left to serve in the military. Gatten initially filed a complaint with the Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, which investigated the matter, determined that the complaint had merit and referred the matter to the Justice Department. In its lawsuit, the Justice Department seeks reemployment for Gatten as a full-time security guard sergeant, the lost wages and benefits he would have received had Knight promptly and properly reemployed him as USERRA requires, and liquidated damages.
"No servicemember should be made to fear for his or her livelihood because he or she answered our country’s call to duty," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the rights of those who, through their bravery and sacrifice, secure the rights of all Americans."
The Department’s Civil Rights Division has given a high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights under USERRA. This is the 19th USERRA lawsuit the Civil Rights Division has filed in 2009 on behalf of service members. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s Web sites, http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp and http://www.servicemembers.gov, as well as on the Labor Department’s Web site at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.