WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement, in the form of a consent decree, with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company that, if approved by the U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City, will resolve its lawsuit filed on behalf of Michael J. Ellis, a major in the U.S. Army Reserve.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit, filed in May 2009, alleged that Goodyear violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by failing to promptly reemploy Ellis following his military service. Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires employers to reemploy a returning service member in the position the employee would have held had his or her employment not been interrupted by military service.
Ellis was on leave from Goodyear due to a previous service-related injury and awaiting reassignment to a new position with Goodyear consistent with his physical abilities when he was called to active duty in September 2005. According to the complaint, when Ellis sought reemployment with Goodyear after his discharge in 2007, the company took no steps to identify the position Ellis would have received had he not been activated, and it failed to reemploy him for nearly a year. Under the terms of the consent decree, Goodyear must pay Ellis $40,000 in back wages and other damages. Goodyear also must supplement its policies at its Lawton, Okla., plant to ensure that returning service members are promptly reemployed in accordance with USERRA, and must submit to a period of monitoring by the Justice Department to ensure Goodyear’s compliance with USERRA.
"Every day, our men and women in uniform risk their lives to protect our rights," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Department of Justice will work diligently to ensure that service members’ rights are protected, too."
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice remains committed to the vigorous enforcement of USERRA. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Department of Justice Web site at www.servicemembers.gov and www.justice.gov/crt/emp and on the Department of Labor Web site at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.