Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Deputy Sheriff Sues To Stop Anti-Military Discrimination

Placer County deputy sheriff Kevin Brady filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday to stop the Placer County Sheriff's Department from discriminating against military veterans. In a press release, the Placer County Deputy Sheriffs' Association explained that "following an eighteen month tour of duty in Operation Enduring Freedom, Army Sergeant Kevin Brady returned to his job as a Deputy Sheriff for the County of Placer. He was surprised to find that, instead of rewarding his service to his Country, the County was holding him back from being eligible to apply for specialty assignments and promotions in violation of federal law."

Veterans' post-service employment rights are guaranteed by the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and California state law. The case seeks to protect all military veterans working at the Sheriff's Department.

Congress enacted USERRA to encourage military service and prevent employers from penalizing veterans for responding to the call of duty. USERRA requires employers to treat returning veterans as if they had been present and continuously working at their civilian jobs for the duration of their absence in military service.

Under USERRA, employees are entitled to more than merely their old job back. They are entitled to all the benefits, positions, and promotions they would have achieved if they had never left. As the U.S. Supreme court stated, the veteran "does not step back on the [career] escalator at the point he stepped off. He steps back on at the precise point he would have occupied had he kept his position continuously during the war." The employee does not have to demonstrate that a promotion or new position was guaranteed to him.  He only needs to show that it is reasonable to believe if he had been present at his civilian job instead of away serving his country, he probably would have been given the new position. 

USERRA prohibits employers from saying a service member is “not qualified” for the new position. Instead, it is the employer’s duty to make all reasonable efforts to train or otherwise qualify the employee for their new position. Mastagni Law attorneys David E. Mastagni and BJ Pierce represent Deputy Brady in the matter. See the CBS news video here.