Justice Department Files Civil Complaint Against Healthcare Commons Inc. for Failure to Re-employ Returning Service Member
Alleges Violation of Employment Rights of Sergeant in Army National Guard
The Department of Justice announced today it has filed a civil complaint against a South Jersey company for failing to re-employ a former employee when she returned from a National Guard deployment, a violation of federal law.
The civil lawsuit, filed in Camden federal court, alleges that Healthcare Commons Inc., of Carneys Point, New Jersey, willfully violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). USERRA protects the rights of uniformed service members to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations and provides that they shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations.
Megan Toliver, 32, of New Castle, Delaware, is a former employee of Healthcare Commons. She joined the U.S. Army National Guard in September 2004 and, most recently, had served as a sergeant, with honorable service as a mental health specialist. According to the complaint, when Toliver returned from her military deployment in May 2014, Healthcare Commons willfully violated USERRA by not re-employing her as a mental health screener or in another comparable position.
“No person should lose their job for serving our country, but according to our complaint that’s exactly what happened to a National Guard member here,” said Acting Associate General Stuart F. Delery. “Today’s filing is one more example of the Department of Justice’s commitment to protecting the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces from discrimination and unlawful actions.”
“The filing of this case reinforces the commitment of the Department of Justice to the vigorously enforce the prohibition of employment discrimination based on military service,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “I want to thank the Department of Labor for referring this case to the Department of Justice. I’m hopeful that through the department’s newly created Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative, we will continue to build on our strong ties with federal partners and continue using every tool at our disposal to protect the rights of the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.”
“The men and women who serve in our armed forces here and abroad do so at great personal sacrifice,” said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman of the District of New Jersey. “Because of that sacrifice, federal law guarantees that they have the opportunity to resume their careers when they’ve completed their service. When companies seek to skirt their obligations to re-employ our returning veterans, we will hold them accountable.”
The case was referred by U.S. Department of Labor following an investigation by the department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.
The plaintiff is represented by Special Litigation Counsel Andrew Braniff of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Campion of the District of New Jersey.
In March 2015, the Attorney General created the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative, which is led by three dedicated career Justice Department attorneys with strong ties to the military community. They will further the department’s existing efforts by coordinating and expanding enforcement, outreach, and training efforts on behalf of service members, veterans and their families. The initiative will address the unique challenges that service members face while on active duty, that veterans face upon returning home, and that families face when a loved one is deployed.
Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s websites at www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp and www.servicemembers.gov, the U.S. Attorney’s Office website at www.justice.gov/usao-nj and the Labor Department’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.