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Press Release

The City of Somerville Restores Reemployment Promotional Rights of Marine Corps Reservist

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced its settlement resolving claims that the City of Somerville violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by failing to re-employ U.S. Marine Corps Reservist Sean Keane at the appropriate level of seniority following his multiple military deployments, including multiple tours in Afghanistan.  USERRA protects the employment rights of service men and women returning to the civilian workforce after their military service.  The law provides that returning service members must be restored to their civilian employment as if they had not been separated due to their military service.  USERRA governs the reemployment process and prohibits employers from denying returning service members seniority or other employment rights or benefits due to their time away from the job while on military service.

Keane, a firefighter for the City of Somerville since 1989, was called to active duty military service from April 2, 2004 to September 25, 2013.  Following his return, Keane took a lieutenant’s make-up promotional exam to replace the regular administration of the examination that he missed due to his deployment.  Keane received the highest score on the test which placed him at the top of the promotional list, ahead of two firefighters who had previously been promoted in July 2013.  When Keane was eventually promoted in October 2014, he requested that his promotion be effective as of July 2013, the date he would have been promoted had he not been away on military service.  He was denied the July 2013 promotion date and, as a result, was deemed ineligible to take a make-up exam for a subsequent promotional opportunity, the captain’s position. 

“Reservists who are called into active duty to serve their country make many sacrifices including time away from their jobs,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.  “In applying USERRA’s protections, we seek to restore servicemembers to the promotions and pay they have rightfully earned.  We are committed to ensuring that those who serve our country are not disadvantaged because of their military service, and are encouraged by the City’s swift action in fulfilling its legal obligations with respect to Mr. Keane.”

“The great sacrifice of Americans who serve in our Marine Corps should never be a detriment to their civilian careers,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery.  “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the rights of the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and we will continue to hold employers who violate their rights accountable.”

“As a service member in Afghanistan, Sean Keane has served his country with admirable distinction, honor and integrity,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “Courageous men and women like Lieutenant Keane, who answer America’s call to defend our freedom, deserve to reclaim their civilian jobs without undue impediment when they return home.  We commend the state and local officials who worked cooperatively to resolve this claim under USERRA.”

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the City of Somerville agree to pay more than $15,000 to Keane as back pay, and the Commonwealth will permit Keane to make-up the missed examination for promotion to captain.  Based on his score, Keane will be as eligible for a promotion as others who took the examination on its initial schedule. 

This case stems from a referral by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL),following an investigation by the DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), to the the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and the Employment Litigation Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.  The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Driscoll and Jennifer Serafyn of Ortiz’s Civil Rights Unit, and Special Litigation Counsel Andrew Braniff and Trial Attorney Jeremy Monteiro of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. 

The protection of servicemembers’ rights is a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Additional information about USERRA can be found at, and

Updated February 10, 2016

Servicemembers Initiative