Since the Civil War, the United States has passed laws protecting the jobs of men and women who serve in times of armed conflict. That law is currently called the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA).
The USERRA offers numerous job protections for not only military reservists, but, in certain circumstances, veterans as well as those seeking to join the military or those workers brave enough to help other service members enforce their workplace USERRA rights.
Riverside's attorneys have litigated USERRA cases across the country. Its attorneys originated and litigated the largest known USERRA class action settlement in the law’s history: Martin v. Washington State Patrol. Further, Riverside's attorneys litigated and tried to verdict one of the six known cases where a jury found that the employer willfully discriminated against a returning veteran, Hanson v. Kitsap County.
ABOUT RIVERSIDE'S USERRA SERVICES
USERRA’s job protections include:
1. Protection against discrimination & retaliation.
A servicemember’s miliary service obligation cannot play a part in an employer’s decision to fire, demote, non-promote, or take other actions that affect compensation and benefits. Nor can an employer retaliate against a servicemember who tries to enforce their USERRA rights.
Since employers will rarely tell reservist/employees that they are being fired because of their military service, USERRA allows a party to establish discrimination by, among other things, examining the closeness in time (shorter being better) between the adverse act (like firing) and the military service (like telling your boss you have military duty), whether the employer followed its internal policies, and whether you were treated differently than other non-military employees.
2. Protection of your pre-deployment job.
Under USERRA you are supposed to get your pre-deployment job back when you come home. But, in order to ensure this protection, USERRA requires that you (1) be in the military (2) give your employer advance notice of your military obligation, (3) serve less than five years (this requirement has many exceptions to it so even if your service was beyond five years you may likely enjoy USERRA’s protections), (4) receive an honorable discharge, and (5) give your employer timely notice of your intent to come back to your job. If you meet (1) through (5) then your employer should give you your pre-deployment job back i.e., the job you would have occupied had you never deployed. If your employer cannot do this then your employer must find you another job for which you are qualified. If your employer cannot find you another job then it must take reasonable steps to train you so you become qualified. At the end of the day, the job you come back to should have the same seniority, status, and pay as the job you left. USERRA does allow an employer to exempt itself from the re-employment provisions under certain circumstances; however, such circumstances are rare.
3. Protection of your retirement and other work benefits.
Under USERRA an employer generally must treat you as if you never left the workplace for the purpose of calculating retirement benefits. Additionally, if an employer offers paid short term leave benefits (such as paid jury duty, paid sick leave, etc.) then it must offer that same benefit to military reservists.
Tsui v. Walmart, Inc., 20-cv-12309-MPK (D. Mass. 2021) (obtained $10,000,000 USERRA class action settlement and agreement from Walmart to pay up to 30 days of military leave annually)
Hanson v. Kitsap County, 21 F.Supp.3d 1124 (W.D. Wn. 2014) (obtained jury verdict and $583,853 judgment which found that Kitsap County willfully violated the client’s rights under USERRA and obtained summary judgment adjudication, in favor of plaintiff, on a USERRA, 38 U.S.C. § 4318, pension claim – – – the first known result regarding such a claim in the USERRA’s history)
Huntsman v. Southwest Airlines, 3:17-cv-03972-JD (N.D. Cal. 2019) (obtained USERRA class action settlement valued at $5,800,000 in missed 401(k) contributions, $13,000,000 in unpaid sick leave, and finding from court that “Class Counsel has capably and effectively represented the Class Members’ interests")
Hall v. L-3 Technologies, Inc., et. al., 2019 WL 3845460 (E.D. Wn. 2019) (obtained settlement valued at $2,000,000 in first known USERRA failure to hire discrimination class action lawsuit)
Martin v. State of Washington, et. al., Spokane County Superior Court Cause No. 14-2-00016-7 (2017) (obtained settlement valued at nearly $15,000,000 in USERRA and 42 U.S.C. 1983 class action lawsuit regarding the Washington State Patrol’s decades’ long failure to provide Veteran Preference points in the hiring/promotional process)
Allman v. American Airlines, Inc. Pilot Ret. Ben. Plan, et. al., 1:14-cv-10138-IT (D. Mass. 2017) (obtained $6,000,000 (+) settlement in USERRA pension benefit class action)
Tuten v. United Airlines, Inc., 41 F.Supp.3d 1003 (D. Colo. 2014) (co-lead counsel for plaintiff in federal USERRA class action resulting in $6.15 million settlement and with the Court stating in written opinion that “the Court is of the view that the results achieved for the Plaintiff class in this case were outstanding, worthy of being emulated by class representatives and counsel in other comparable litigation")
Jones v. Marriott Hotel Servs., Inc., 2013 WL 415605 (N.D. Cal Jan. 31, 2013) (represented U.S. Marine Corps reserve officer that Marriott failed to reemploy following employee’s return from military duty)