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Press Release

Lawsuit Settled Against Healthcare Commons to Enforce Employment Rights of National Guard Sergeant

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice has reached a settlement today with Healthcare Commons Inc., resolving claims that the South Jersey company failed to re-employ a Delaware woman when she returned from her deployment with the National Guard, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey.

The civil lawsuit, filed in Camden federal court, alleged that Healthcare Commons, of Carneys Point, New Jersey, willfully violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), which protects the rights of uniformed service members to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations, and provides that service members shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations.

“Cases like this one not only provide financial relief to soldiers returning from overseas but also ensure that employers fully understand their employment obligations to servicemembers,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery.  “Through the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative, the Department of Justice will continue using every tool at our disposal to protect the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces from unjust actions and illegal burdens.”

“The men and women who wear our nation’s uniform need to know that they will be protected from the types of injustice experienced by Ms. Tolliver,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “The Department of Justice, through its enforcement of USERRA, strongly supports the right of service members to retain their rightful positions in the workforce both while they serve and after they complete their military service to our country.”

According to the complaint, 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.  When Toliver returned from her military deployment in May 2014, she notified Healthcare Commons that she was seeking re-employment.  Healthcare Commons willfully violated USERRA by not re-employing her as a mental health screener or in another comparable position.

Under the terms of a consent decree, which was filed today in federal court, Healthcare Commons agreed to pay $18,500 as back pay and liquidated damages to Toliver.  Healthcare Commons also agreed to adopt a new personnel policy that informs employees of their rights and obligations under USERRA and to provide USERRA training to all supervisory staff.

The case was referred by the 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 Department of Justice’s 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, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office website at www.justice.gov/usao-nj and on the Labor Department’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.

Updated November 8, 2016

Topic
Servicemembers Initiative
Press Release Number: 15-1115