WASHINGTON – The United States has entered into a consent decree with the Indianapolis law firm of Mike Norris & Associates that, if approved in federal court in Indianapolis, will resolve the Justice Department’s March 16, 2009, complaint on behalf of an Indiana National Guardsman alleging that the law firm violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), the Justice Department announced today. Under the terms of the consent decree, the law firm must provide the National Guardsman, Mathew B. Jeffries, with $40,000 to compensate him for his lost wages and accrued interest.
Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires that servicemembers who leave their jobs to serve in the U.S. military be timely reemployed by their civilian employers in the same position, or in a comparable position to the position that they would have held had they not left to serve in the military. In its complaint, the department alleged that in February 2003, Jeffries, a staff attorney with Mike Norris & Associates, was called to active duty and deployed to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. Upon his completion of active duty in April 2004, Jeffries contacted the law firm seeking reemployment. According to the complaint, the law firm refused to reemploy Jeffries, so he filed a complaint with the Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). VETS investigated the matter, determined that Jeffries’ claim had merit and, upon failure of conciliation efforts, referred the matter to the Justice Department.
“Individuals who sacrifice to serve our Country in the military deserve to know, at the very least, that they can return to their civilian jobs after military service,” said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This consent decree demonstrates again our commitment to vigorously enforcing federal laws that protect the employment rights of men and women serving in the military. We are pleased that Mike Norris & Associates has chosen to resolve this lawsuit and abide by the requirements of USERRA.”
The Department’s Civil Rights Division has given a high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights under USERRA. The Civil Rights Division has filed 19 USERRA lawsuits in 2009 on behalf of servicemembers. 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.