The Department of Justice announced that it filed a complaint yesterday in federal court in the Northern District of Mississippi against Coahoma County, Mississippi (Coahoma County), to protect the employment rights of an Army Reservist, Staff Sergeant First Class (SSG) Jason Sims Sr.
According to the complaint, SSG Sims was employed with the Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office from 2014 to 2018 during which time he also performed military service by teaching leadership courses at the United States Army Installation at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The complaint alleges that he was fired because of this military service obligation, in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The lawsuit seeks reinstatement of SSG Sims to his employment with the Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office and the recovery of back wages and other benefits of employment that Sims lost as a result of his termination.
“Our Nation has made a commitment to protect the civilian jobs of its servicemembers while they serve our Country,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “Federal law frees members of the armed forces from the stress associated with the fear they will be fired because they were called to military service.”
“The legal rights of the members of our Armed Forces, who routinely make personal sacrifices to protect our nation, must be respected,” said U.S. Attorney William C. Lamar of the Northern District of Mississippi. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting those rights, so that these brave men and women can return from their service to their civilian jobs with the full benefits to which they are entitled.”
USERRA protects the rights of uniformed servicemembers to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations, and provides that servicemembers shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations. The Justice Department gives high priority to the enforcement of servicemembers’ rights under USERRA. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s websites at www.justice.gov/crt-military/employment-rights-userra and www.justice.gov/servicemembers as well as on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra.
This case stems from a referral by the U.S. Department of Labor, at SSG Sims’ request, after an investigation by the DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Luke Benedict and Stuart Davis in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi and Brian McEntire in the Employment Litigation Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.