DOJ sues U.S. city over violating rights of an Air National Guard member

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his team at the Department of Justice are suing the city of Glendale, Arizona, over mistreatment of a member of the Air National Guard.

According to the Justice Department’s press release on Aug. 15, Rebecca Cruz was fired by the city because of her service requirements to the Air National Guard.

The lawsuit seeks damages equal to the amount of Cruz’s lost wages and benefits caused by the City of Glendale’s failure to comply with USERRA, as well as liquidated damages for what the Justice Department alleges is Glendale’s willful violation of USERRA. It also seeks an order requiring the City of Glendale to reinstate Cruz to her prior position, to comply with all provisions of USERRA in the future, and to pay all related litigation fees.

The full release, which provides details of the case, can be read below:

AUGUST 15, 2017

Justice Department Sues Glendale, AZ, For Violating Employment Rights of Arizona Air National Guard Member

The Justice Department filed a complaint today alleging that the City of Glendale, Arizona, violated the employment rights of Arizona Air National Guard member Captain Rebecca Cruz under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). Captain Cruz has served the United States honorably as a member of the Arizona Air National Guard since 2007.

According to the complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Captain Cruz’s military service was a motivating factor in Glendale’s decision to terminate her employment. The Department claims that, in March 2016, the City of Glendale hired Captain Cruz as a Management Analyst in its Public Works Department, knowing at that time that she also served as a member of the Guard. Approximately two months after she was hired, the Guard notified Cruz that she would need to attend military training for a new Air National Guard job classification to which she was being assigned. Cruz provided her military orders conveying that schedule to the City of Glendale, and six days later she was fired.

“In order to provide the security our nation depends on, members of our National Guard, like Captain Cruz, are often called away from their civilian jobs,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “These brave men and women must be able to fulfill their military obligations without fear that they will lose their jobs in the process, and the Department of Justice is here to ensure those protections.”

USERRA protects the rights of uniformed servicemembers to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations, and provides that servicemembers shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations.

This lawsuit seeks damages equal to the amount of Cruz’s lost wages and benefits caused by the City of Glendale’s failure to comply with USERRA, as well as liquidated damages for what the Department alleges is Glendale’s willful violation of USERRA. It also seeks an order requiring the City of Glendale to reinstate Cruz to her prior position, to comply with all provisions of USERRA in the future, and to pay all related litigation fees.

This case stems from a referral by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), pursuant to an investigation by the DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. The case is being handled by the Employment Litigation Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, which works collaboratively with the DOL to protect the jobs and benefits of National Guard servicemembers upon their return to civilian life.

The Justice Department gives high priority to the enforcement of servicemembers’ rights under USERRA. 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 on DOL’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.

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