Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against Nevada Company to Enforce the Employment Rights of Air Force Reservist
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement that will resolve its suit filed on behalf of former Utah Army National Guardsman and current Air Force Reservist Matthew T. Denning against Stonescape Pavers LLC. The settlement must be approved by the federal court in Las Vegas. The Department’s complaint, filed in June 2009, alleges that Stonescape violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by terminating Denning during his statutorily protected reemployment time period. Under the terms of the settlement, embodied in an agreement that has been submitted to the court, Stonescape must provide Denning with $10,000 to compensate him for his lost wages and benefits as a result of Stonescape’s actions.
In its complaint, the Justice Department alleged that Denning was a salesman for Stonescape when he was called to active duty to deploy to Iraq with the Utah Army National Guard in January 2006. After he was honorably discharged in June 2006, he was reemployed by Stonescape. According to the complaint, Stonescape terminated Denning without cause in August 2006 during his statutorily-protected reemployment time period. The lawsuit was filed after the Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service completed an investigation of Denning’s complaint. Congress enacted USERRA in 1994 to protect service members from being disadvantaged in their civilian careers due to serving in the uniformed services. Among other things, USERRA prohibits employers from terminating a service member except for cause for 180 days after the employee’s date of reemployment if his or her recent period of uniformed service was more than 30 days but less than 181 days.
"We all have a duty to ensure the brave men and women who serve our country in uniform can land on their feet after they return from active duty. This settlement demonstrates our vigilant protection of the employment rights of our servicemembers, and our commitment to vigorous enforcement of the laws that protect them," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has given a high priority to the enforcement of servicemembers’ rights under USERRA. During 2009, the Civil Rights Division has filed 20 USERRA lawsuits on behalf of service members. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s Web sites at http://www.justice.gov/crt/emp and http://www.servicemembers.gov/, as well as on the Labor Department’s Web site at http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm