Justice Department Settles Lawsuit with United Airlines to Enforce Employment Rights of Air National Guardsman
The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement with United Airlines Inc., resolving TenEyck LaTourrette’s allegation that the airline violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) by under compensating his retirement plan during his military service. LaTourrette is currently a major serving in the Colorado Air National Guard and a first officer for United Airlines.
LaTourrette alleged that United Airlines based its pension contributions on a minimum monthly schedule, rather than using LaTourrette’s actual schedule during the 12 months preceding his military obligations, as required by USERRA. Among the protections provided by USERRA are provisions related to the pension benefits a service member receives from his civilian employer. As a general matter, Section 4318 under USERRA provides that a service member’s pension benefits will continue to accrue while he is on active duty. To that end, USERRA requires an employer to make contributions to the pension fund of a deployed reservist “in the same manner and to the same extent the allocation occurs for other employees during the period of service.”
“This nation relies on the members of our National Guard and reserve, and this settlement exemplifies our efforts to ensure that they can serve their nation without penalty from their employers,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
Under the terms of the settlement, United Airlines will fully compensate LaTourrette for all deficient pension payments, plus any associated earnings, in full satisfaction of any and all claims. The settlement, if approved by the court, would resolve all of the allegations that United Airlines violated USERRA with respect to LaTourrette’s pension claim.
The lawsuit was initially filed after the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) of the Department of Labor referred LaTourrette’s complaint to the Justice Department upon completion of its investigation and failed settlement efforts. The Department of Labor and Justice Department work cooperatively together to protect the jobs and benefits of National Guard and Reserve service members upon their return to civilian life. More information about USERRA is available at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.