Truman, Minnesota, And Federal Government Settle Employment Claim Filed By Army Reservist
MINNEAPOLIS—According to a consent decree filed earlier today in federal court, the city of Truman, Minnesota, violated the employment rights of Michael Schutz, a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, by failing to properly reemploy him and moving to terminate his job as a police officer after he returned from active military duty in Kuwait. The consent decree states that the city’s actions violated the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”).
“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that an individual who has served our country in uniform is not deprived of his or her civilian career opportunities due to that service,” said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez.
Pursuant to the terms of the agreement entered by the city and the federal government, Truman must pay Schutz $11,211.29, the value of unpaid benefits, and provide him with 40 additional hours of vaction time for 2012 and 2013. In addition, it must deposit the value of the lost non-wage income into his PERA account, pay his legal fees, and remove reference to his proposed termination from all personnel files. Furthermore, the city must mandate that all employees attend one hour of training regarding USERRA rights.
On September 30, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil suit on Schutz’s behalf, alleging that upon Schutz’s honorable discharge from military service, the city failed to reemploy him in his pre-service position as a full-time police officer. The suit also claimed that the city retaliated against Schutz for filing a USERRA claim by placing him on administrative leave for approximately three weeks and then issuing him a notice of intent to terminate employment shortly thereafter.
Subject to certain conditions, USERRA requires employers to promptly reemploy returning services members in the positions they would have held had their employment not been interrupted by military service or employ them in positions of like seniority, status, and pay. In addition, employers may not retaliate against service-member employees seeking to exercise their rights under USERRA.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and United States Attorney Office for the District of Minnesota have given high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights under USERRA. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Department’s websites at www.justice.gov/crt/emp and www.servicemembers.gov, as well as on the Labor Department’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.
The litigation and representation of Mr. Schutz in this case was led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ana H. Voss, in coordination with the Civil Rights Division.