WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with Stimson Lumber Company (Stimson) that, if approved by the court, will resolve the Department’s complaint, also filed today, that Oregon-based Stimson failed to reemploy Oregon reservist David Eckhardt in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
USERRA was enacted in 1994 to protect service members from being disadvantaged in their civilian careers due to serving in the uniformed services. Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires that individuals who leave their jobs to serve in the U.S. military be timely reemployed by their civilian employers in the same position, or a comparable position, to the position that they would have held had they not left to serve in the military.
The Department’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., alleges that Stimson violated USERRA by failing or refusing to promptly reemploy David Eckhardt upon his return from military service in the Naval Reserves. In March 2007, Eckhardt attended a required military training program. After a short recovery period from an injury sustained during his military training obligation, Eckhardt contacted Stimson in April 2007 to seek reemployment as a boiler operator. The complaint alleges that Stimson failed or refused to reemploy Eckhardt, notifying him that the company had hired another individual to replace him. Under the terms of the consent decree, Stimson is required to provide remedial relief to Eckhardt in the form of an undisclosed monetary payment. Stimson is also prohibited from retaliating against persons who exercise their rights under USERRA.
"No person should lose his civilian job for choosing to serve in the military," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Department demonstrates again with this settlement that it is committed to vigorously enforcing federal laws that protect the employment rights of men and women who are serving in the military. We are pleased that Stimson has chosen to resolve this lawsuit and abide by the requirements of USERRA."
The 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 Justice Department Web sites: http://www.servicemembers.gov and www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp .