Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice
MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2008
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Justice Department Files Lawsuit against Wal-mart Stores, Inc., to Defend Employment Rights of Air Force Veteran

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Sean Thornton, a former airman with the United States Air Force, against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (Wal-Mart) alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla., alleges that Wal-Mart violated USERRA by failing and refusing to reinstate Thornton to his civilian employment position as a cashier at a Wal-Mart store in Orange City, Fla., after he was discharged by the Air Force. Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires that individuals who leave their jobs to serve in the United States military be reemployed by their civilian employers in the same position that they would have held had they not left to serve in the military.

“No person should be disadvantaged in the workplace for serving our country in the military,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice remains committed to fully protecting the employment rights of individuals who serve in the armed services.”

The Justice Department’s lawsuit was filed after the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor referred a complaint filed by Mr. Thornton under USERRA to the Justice Department upon completion of its investigation and unresolved settlement efforts. USERRA provides that the Department of Justice may appear on behalf of, and act as attorney for, persons whose complaints are referred to Department of Justice by the Department of Labor.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice was given authority over USERRA in 2004. Since that time, the Division has resolved 18 USERRA claims on behalf of servicemembers and filed the first-ever federal class action lawsuit under USERRA.

Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Department of Justice website at the following link, and on the Department of Labor Web site at the following link