WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with Synapse Data and Telecom Inc. (Synapse), and Matthew Mossbarger, the owner of Synapse, to resolve the department’s complaint filed on behalf of Utah National Guard member Jose A. Ortega, alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). Enacted by Congress, USERRA prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees or applicants for employment because of past, current or future military obligations.
The department’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, alleges that Ortega, then a network administrator for Synapse, enlisted in the Utah National Guard in April 2008 and was given orders to report for basic training the following month. According to the complaint, Mossbarger terminated Ortega’s employment with Synapse when Ortega declined to withdraw from the Utah National Guard. The consent decree obtained by the department, if approved by the court, will require that Synapse and Mossbarger pay Ortega $3,000 in monetary relief, and will enjoin them from committing future violations of USERRA.
"Our nation’s laws ensure that the men and women who commit to serving our nation in the military can do so without fear of discrimination or retaliation at their civilian jobs," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This case illustrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to vigorously enforcing federal laws that protect the employment rights of our service members."
The Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service investigated and attempted to resolve Mr. Ortega’s USERRA complaint before referring it to the Department of Justice for litigation.
Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s website at www.servicemembers.gov and www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp and on the Labor Department’s website as www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra.