A settlement has been reached resolving claims that the Bullhead City Fire District (BCFD) violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), by discriminating against U.S. Army Reserves Member Brett Guinan and by failing to reemploy him following his military deployment.
According to the complaint filed in the United States District Court of the District of Arizona, BCFD discriminated against Guinan by terminating his employment on the basis of his military service. The complaint alleges that, between 2008 and 2013, Guinan was deployed three times in the Army Reserves. During his second military deployment, Guinan’s supervisor began making negative statements about Guinan’s military service obligations. In June 2013, while Guinan was serving his third deployment, BCFD eliminated Guinan’s Fire Inspector position and terminated his employment, claiming to have undergone a “reduction in workforce.” Guinan’s Fire Inspector position, however, was the only job position eliminated in 2013. After Guinan’s position was eliminated, BCFD also continued to pay other people to perform Guinan’s Fire Inspector duties and continued to post new job openings on its website. The complaint further alleges that after Guinan returned from his third deployment, he notified BCFD that he was seeking reemployment. Despite Guinan’s efforts to be reemployed, BCFD refused to reemploy him as required by USERRA.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, filed along with the complaint, BCFD has agreed to pay $75,000 as back pay and front pay damages to Guinan. BCFD also has agreed to adopt a new personnel policy that informs employees of their rights and obligations under USERRA and to provide USERRA training to all supervisory staff in its five fire stations.
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.
USERRA protects the rights of uniformed service members to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations, and provides that service members shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations.