WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a settlement with the state of Nevada and its Office of the State Controller to resolve allegations that they willfully violated the employment rights of Army reservist Col. Arthur Ingram when he returned from military service. The settlement in this case represents the largest recovery the Civil Rights Division has obtained on behalf of a returning service member since 2004, when it assumed jurisdiction for the enforcement of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
On July 13, 2012, the state of Nevada Board of Examiners ratified a settlement agreement previously filed by the parties and approved by the federal court in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. The settlement requires the defendants to pay Ingram $262,000 in back pay and $211,000 to fully fund his pension benefits for a nine-year time period from when Ingram started his active duty military service through settlement.
The Justice Department’s complaint alleges that the defendants willfully violated USERRA by failing to reemploy Ingram in his prior position as chief deputy controller when he returned from military service in June 2008. According to the Justice Department’s complaint, after Ingram filed an initial complaint with the Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service to attempt to obtain reemployment, the defendants then willfully retaliated against him by withdrawing an offer to reemploy him in a lower paying position as a chief accountant, terminating his employment and backdating the termination to January 2007 to punitively prohibit his vesting in the Nevada state pension system.
USERRA requires all employers to promptly reemploy service members returning from military service in their pre-service position or a position of like seniority, status and pay. USERRA also prohibits employers from retaliating against service members for asserting their reemployment rights under the statute.
“Men and women called to active duty need to know they do not have to sacrifice their civilian jobs at home in order to serve our country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to aggressive enforcement of USERRA to protect the rights of those who, through their bravery and sacrifice, secure the rights of all Americans.”
“The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada remains committed to protecting the employment rights of military reservists when they return home from active duty following service on behalf of the United States,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada Daniel G. Bogden.
Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department websites www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp and www.servicemembers.gov, as well as the Labor Department website www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.