For Servicemembers, Veterans, and Military Family Members
For Servicemembers, Veterans, and Military Family Members
What We Do
The Department of Justice enforces laws that protect three categories of servicemember civil rights: financial/housing; employment; and voting. Should you have questions about your legal rights with respect to one of these categories, please click on the above links for more information.
The Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative also identifies current legal issues affecting servicemembers and veterans, and coordinates with Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Offices of the United States Attorneys, other federal agencies and bureaus, and legal assistance providers to resolve those issues.
Recent Department of Justice Successes
- On August 2, 2019, the court entered a consent decree resolving United States v. Shur-Way Moving and Cartage (N.D. Ill.). The complaint, filed on July 29, 2019, alleged that Shur-Way violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), 50 U.S.C. § 3958, when it auctioned off the contents of an active duty servicemember’s storage unit without a court order. The consent decree requires Shur-Way to pay $20,000 in damages to the servicemember, pay a $10,000 civil penalty, and revise its policies.
- On August 1, 2019, the United States filed a complaint and executed a settlement agreement in United States v. Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. (M.D. Tenn.). The complaint alleges that Nissan, which provides motor vehicle lending and leasing services, engaged in a pattern or practice of violating Section 3952 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) by repossessing vehicles owned by 113 protected servicemembers without the required court orders. The complaint also alleges that Nissan engaged in a pattern or practice of violating Section 3955 of the SCRA by failing to refund lease amounts paid in advance in the form of capitalized cost reduction to servicemembers who terminated their leases early following receipt of qualifying military orders. The settlement agreement requires Nissan to pay $2,937,971 in damages to servicemembers and a $62,029 civil penalty to the United States, for a total of $3 million. The agreement also requires Nissan to adopt new polices and training to prevent future violations of the SCRA.
- On March 14, 2019, the Division and the United States Attorney’s Office filed a complaint in United States v. PRG Real Estate Management (E.D. Va.). On March 15, 2019, the parties entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the case. The complaint alleges that PRG Real Estate Management, a property management company, and related entities violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) when they: (1) obtained default judgments against servicemember-tenants without filing an affidavit disclosing the tenant’s military status to the court; and (2) imposed early termination fees on servicemembers who terminated their leases pursuant to military orders. The settlement agreement requires the defendants to pay up to $1,490,000 to compensate 127 servicemembers who had unlawful default judgments entered against them and $34,920 to compensate 10 servicemembers who were charged early lease termination fees in violation of the SCRA. Defendants will also pay a civil penalty of $62,029 to the United States. In addition, the agreement requires credit repair, policy charges and monitoring for SCRA compliance.
- On March 12, 2019, the court entered a consent order in United States v. California Auto Finance (C.D. Cal.). The complaint, filed on March 28, 2018, alleged that California Auto Finance, a subprime auto lender in Orange County, CA, violated the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by repossessing protected servicemembers’ motor vehicles without obtaining the necessary court orders. On June 14, 2018, the complaint was amended to include a related entity called 3rd Generation, Inc. as a defendant. The consent order requires that the defendants adopt new repossession policies, pay one servicemember $30,000, and pay a $50,000 civil penalty to the United States.
- On February 6, 2019, the United States filed a complaint and entered into a settlement agreement resolving United States v. PHH Mortgage Corp. (D. N.J.). The complaint alleged that PHH, one of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers, engaged in violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”), 50 U.S.C. § 3953, that raise issues of significant public importance when it foreclosed on homes owned by six servicemembers without the required court orders. The settlement agreement requires PHH to pay $750,000 in damages to the servicemembers ($125,000 per servicemember). The agreement also requires monitoring for SCRA compliance.
- On November 2, 2018, the United States filed a complaint and entered into a settlement agreement resolving United States v. Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union (S.D.N.Y.). The complaint alleged that the credit union violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by repossessing protected servicemembers’ motor vehicles without obtaining the necessary court orders. The settlement agreement requires Hudson Valley to provide $10,000 in compensation to each of six servicemembers whose motor vehicles COPOCO unlawfully repossessed and $5,000 to one servicemember who faced an unlawful repossession but had his vehicle returned within 24 hours. The settlement agreement also requires Hudson Valley to provide SCRA training to its employees, report to the United States on any SCRA complaints received, and pay a civil penalty of $30,000.
- On September 11, 2018, the United States filed a complaint and entered into a settlement agreement in United States v. Twin Creek Apartments, LLC d/b/a/ Pavilion at Twin Creek (D. Neb.). The complaint alleges that Twin Creek engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”), 50 U.S.C. § 3955, by imposing lease termination charges against servicemembers who had properly terminated their residential leases under the SCRA. The settlement agreement requires Twin Creek to pay $75,615 in damages to 65 servicemembers and a $20,000 civil penalty to the United States.
- On September 19, 2017, the Duval County, Texas, Sheriff’s Department agreed to compensate a Deputy Sheriff and Army Reservist for lost wages and employee benefits, and pay him liquidated damages to resolve allegations that it violated USERRA by, among other things, terminating the Deputy Sheriff twice, once while he was on leave for military duty, and a second time for pursuing a USERRA claim after he was belatedly rehired after his period of military service.
- On June 1, 2017, the Pierce County Transportation Benefit Area Corporation of Pierce County, Washington (“Pierce Transit”), agreed to pay $105,000 to a Washington Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel to resolve allegations that it violated USERRA by failing to reemploy the Lieutenant Colonel after he returned from a period of military service. Pierce Transit also agreed to adopt a USERRA policy, provide training to its high-level officials and human resources staff on the USERRA rights and obligations of employers and covered employees, report allegations of violations of USERRA, and certify its compliance with USERRA to the Department of Justice for a period of two years.
- When it has been needed, the Department of Justice has gone to court or entered out of court settlements to obtain relief to ensure that UOCAVA voters are not disenfranchised by late-transmitted ballots or other violations of this federal law. Since the statute was enacted in 1986, the Department has brought 50 lawsuits to protect the ability of service members and U.S. citizens overseas to exercise the right to vote and have their votes counted.
Deputy Associate Attorney General
Director of the Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
4 Constitution Square
150 M St. NE
Washington, DC 20530
Fax: (202) 514-1005