WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement that, if approved by the court, will resolve a lawsuit the Department filed on behalf of Air Force Reservist Frank Bonnin against SmallTownPapers Inc., (SmallTownPapers).
The complaint, filed in August 2008 in U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleged that SmallTownPapers violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) when it terminated Bonnin from his position as director of publisher relations due to his military obligation as an Air Force Reservist to attend active duty training. USERRA prohibits employment discrimination against individuals because of their service obligations in the uniformed services. Under the terms of the consent decree, SmallTownPapers will pay Bonnin $52,500 in back pay.
"This settlement represents the Department’s continued commitment to protecting the employment rights of those who serve our country," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed after receiving Bonnin’s complaint from the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor, upon completion of its investigation and settlement efforts.
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice assumed responsibility in 2004 for the enforcement of USERRA with respect to state and local governments and private employers. Since 2004, the Division has filed 31 USERRA suits on behalf of service members.
Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.servicemembers.gov, and on the Department of Labor Web site at http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.