WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement in its lawsuit against MasTec Advanced Technologies on behalf of Eugene C. Burress, a U.S. Army Reserve member, alleging that MasTec willfully violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
The settlement, embodied in a consent decree that must still be approved in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, calls for MasTec to provide Burress with $5,760 in backpay and interest.
The Justice Department’s complaint, filed in November 2009, alleges that in January 2008, Burress, then a field technician supervisor at MasTec’s Martinsburg, W.Va., office, was called to active duty in the U.S. Army and notified his supervisor of his upcoming military service. His supervisor previously had informed Burress that the site manager position at the office would be vacant soon and offered the position to Burress when it became available. Burress accepted. However, in October 2008, while Burress was engaged in military service, MasTec promoted another MasTec employee to site manager. Burress filed a complaint with the Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, which investigated and attempted to resolve Burress’s USERRA complaint before referring it to the Justice Department for litigation.
"Members of our military make great sacrifices on behalf of our nation. Upon their return from active duty, they have the right to know they will not be denied a promotion because of their service," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
USERRA prohibits civilian employers from denying servicemembers promotions because of their membership in or obligations to perform service in the U.S. military, and also 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.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of servicemembers’ rights under USERRA. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department Web site at www.servicemembers.gov and www.justice.gov/crt/emp, as well as on the Labor Department’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.