WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement in its lawsuit filed on behalf of Wisconsin Army National Guardsman Rocco Sylvester Jr., against Mort’s Concrete Inc. and Kevin Mortimer. The department’s complaint in this case, filed in October 2009, alleged that Mort’s Concrete and Mortimer violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by not reemploying Sylvester in his previous position as a full-time construction foreman after he returned from active military duty in Iraq. Instead, Mort’s and Mortimer employed Sylvester only sporadically as a regular, non-supervisory laborer with significantly fewer hours than before.
The parties’ settlement, embodied in a consent decree that has been submitted for approval to the federal court in Madison requires that Mortimer pay Sylvester $4,000 to compensate him for lost wages that he would have received had he been properly reemployed as a full-time foreman, and enjoins Mort’s and Mortimer from violating USERRA in the future.
"The brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our country deserve to know that they are not sacrificing their civilian employment to do so," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This settlement demonstrates the Civil Rights Division’s strong commitment to ensuring that service members’ rights are upheld."
Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires employers to promptly reemploy individuals who serve in the military in the same position, or in a comparable position, to the position the service member would have held had he or she not left civilian employment for military duty. Sylvester filed a complaint with the Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, which investigated and attempted to resolve his USERRA complaint before referring it to the Justice Department for litigation.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has given a high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights under USERRA. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Department of Justice Web site at www.servicemembers.gov and www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp, and on the Labor Department Web site at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.