Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against Wagner Industrial Electric Inc. to Enforce the Employment Rights of Indiana Reservist

The Department has entered into a consent decree with Wagner Industrial Electric Inc. that, if approved by the court, will resolve the Department’s complaint the company failed to properly reemploy Indiana Army National Guard Reservist Kevin Stenger in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

The Department’s complaint, filed in February in U.S. District Court in Dayton, Ohio, alleges that Wagner violated USERRA by failing to reemploy Stenger in his foreman position following his return in January 2007 from a two-week required active duty military training program. The complaint alleges that, instead of reemploying Stenger in his foreman position, Wagner first demoted him and subsequently laid him off. Under the terms of the consent decree, Wagner is required to provide Stenger with $12,000 to compensate him for his lost wages.

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 service members 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 one that they would have held had they not left to serve. Servicemembers who believe their USERRA rights have been violated may file a complaint with the Labor Department and its Office of Veterans’ Employment and Training Services will investigate. After the investigation, service members have the right to request referral to the Justice Department for potential enforcement and initiation of a lawsuit.

"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. "This settlement 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 Wagner 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: www.servicemembers.gov and www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp.

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