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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Justice Department Announces Settlement Agreement with Longview, Washington, Car Dealership to Protect Employment Rights of Military Applicants

The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with Bud Clary Chevrolet of Longview, Washington, to resolve a lawsuit it filed on behalf of Darrel Forney, a U.S. Navy Airman from Kelso, Washington.  The lawsuit alleged that the company violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) when it terminated Forney in January 2014, after learning of his intention to join the armed services.  If approved by the court, the settlement will resolve the allegations that the defendant violated the employment rights of Forney. 

Bud Clary Chevrolet is a multiple-location car dealership and service center based out of Longview.  According to the department’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, the dealership violated USERRA by terminating Forney from his position as a lube technician in its service department after learning that he intended to join the armed services.  Forney initially intended to join the Navy Reserves, but after being terminated and unable to find other employment, he enlisted as an active duty Naval Airman.  Forney is currently stationed in Pensacola, Florida.  His family continues to reside in Kelso.

“The brave men and women who volunteer for our Armed Forces should never have to fear losing their job for signing up to protect our country,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery.  “This settlement demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to protecting service members from unlawful employment discrimination and we will continue to devote time and resources to these efforts.”

“No service member should have to make a choice between keeping his civilian job and serving his country,” said Vanita Gupta, Head of the Civil Rights Division.  “The Civil Rights Division is committed to preserving the rights and privileges of those who, through their bravery and dedication, secure the rights and liberties of all Americans.” 

“While our dedicated men and women of the military protect our freedoms overseas, we must protect their interests here at home,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington.  “The men and women who serve in our military cannot be penalized for that decision.  This case is another example of the United States Attorney’s Office’s commitment to enforcing the laws that protect the employment rights of those who serve our country.”

Under the terms of the settlement, embodied in a consent decree that has been submitted for approval to the federal district court in Seattle, the defendants must pay Forney $15,500 to compensate him for lost wages.  Among other things, the settlement also requires the defendants to provide training to Bud Clary Chevrolet’s management and human resources staff on the USERRA rights and obligations of employers and covered employees, including USERRA’s prohibition on terminating employees based upon their application to the military. 

The case was litigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Fogg of the Western District of Washington, in collaboration with Andrew Braniff, Special Counsel and USERRA/U.S. Attorney’s Office Program Coordinator, in the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section. 

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’s website 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 Justice Department also has a special website dedicated to protection of service members’ rights which can be found at www.justice.gov/opa/blog/acting-associate-attorney-general-stuart-f-delery-announces-servicemembers-and-veterans.

Updated July 7, 2015