Veteran Awarded Back Pay for Alabama Department of Mental Health’s Failure to Comply with USERRA

A veteran of the Iraq war was awarded back pay and a reinstatement of his continuous service date after a judge in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Alabama ruled his former employer, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, failed to rehire the man upon his return from active duty. 

Prior to his deployment, Roy Hamilton had worked at ADMH since 1987.  Hamilton was deployed to Iraq in July of 2004 and returned from active duty in April of 2005, when he should have been reemployed promptly.  Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) employers are required to rehire individuals who are called away to serve their country in a timely manner.  Additionally, employees are to be rehired in the same, or similar, position and retain their original start of employment date.  The ADMH failed on all counts.

Upon his return, Hamilton contacted his former employer in an effort to regain immediate employment.  ADMH failed to offer Hamilton a job, and they never contacted him about reemployment in the future.  Hamilton was rehired by ADMH in 2007, as a new employee.

The Department of Justice brought Hamilton’s case to trial, where the judge ordered back pay of $23,350.77, $2997.96 in annual sick leave, and reinstated his original hire date of 1987.

Thomas E. Perez, Assistant General Attorney for the Civil Rights Division said that, “Members of our armed forces deserve the comfort of knowing that they will not be sacrificing their civilian careers when they make the choice to serve our nation in the military.”  Unfortunately, that is just what happened with Roy Hamilton, and the reason the USERRA was enacted in the first place.

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