Armed Forces News

An Army reservist received lost wages and benefits plus an undisclosed amount in “liquidated damages,” as settlement for a lawsuit against his civilian employer. Spec. Jonathan J. Melendez sued the Duval County, Texas, Sheriff’s Department, claiming he was fired illegally while serving on active duty in 2016. According to a Justice Department press release, the department hired Melendez as a deputy in 2014, but terminated him on Jan. 1, 2016, while he was on leave to fulfill his military obligation. The department then was late to rehire him. When Melendez sought repayment of his pay and job, he was fired again in October 2016. Reserve and National Guard members are protected from such actions by civilian employers under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). “When they are deployed in the service of our country, their employment rights must be protected. They are entitled to retain their civilian employment and to the protections of federal law that prevent them from being subject to discrimination based upon their military obligations,” said acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, who worked on resolving Melendez’s case.