Justice Department Secures Relief for U.S. Navy Reservist Against Florida Manufacturer Tapesouth Inc.
The Justice Department announced that it had resolved a claim that Tapesouth Inc. violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by failing to promptly reemploy U.S. Navy Reservist James Radtke following his leave for a military service obligation. Radtke is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve assigned to Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida.
“Given the sacrifices that servicemembers already make every day, and the uncertainties they face during their military service obligations, it is simply inexcusable when employers violate USERRA by failing to promptly reemploy them in their proper positions upon the completion of their service obligations,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division. “We honor all servicemembers for their service to our nation, and this settlement signals the Justice Department’s ongoing commitment to protecting and enforcing their rights under federal law.”
In March 2020, Lt. Cdr. Radtke notified Tapesouth Inc. that he would be away on a full-time active-duty military service obligation from April through July 2020. Radtke alleged that after contacting Tapesouth Inc. in July 2020, to return to his previous position as the company’s Vice President of Operations, Tapesouth Inc. terminated his employment in violation of USERRA. Under the terms of the settlement, Tapesouth Inc. has agreed to compensate Radtke for lost income in the amount of $2,500 and provide USERRA training to all its employees.
Congress enacted USERRA to encourage non-career service in the uniformed services by reducing employment disadvantages; to minimize the disruption to the lives of persons performing military service, their employers and others, by providing for the prompt reemployment of such persons upon their completion of such service; and to prohibit discrimination against persons because of their service in the uniformed services or if they pursue a claim under USERRA.
The Department of Labor (DOL) referred this matter following an investigation by their Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. The Employment Litigation Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division handled the case and continues to work collaboratively with the DOL to protect the jobs and benefits of military members. 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 website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra.