Military Connection: Vets Win USERRA Case: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory


With a $6.15 million settlement in the class action lawsuit against United Airlines, Veterans claimed a Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) victory in court. The suit claimed that the airline didn’t properly compensate its pilots who were called to active military service.

Under USERRA, current and former members of the U.S. uniformed services cannot be denied any of the following by their employers due to their service: initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, and any benefit in employment.

An estimated 1,160 United Airlines pilots were deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2010. During their deployments, the airline was obligated, under their contracts with the pilots, to make contributions to their retirement accounts based on the previous 12 contributions. But the lawsuit alleged that the airline only made contributions that were based on the minimum number of flight hours needed to contribute, which was a smaller amount.

Spokane, Washington attorneys Matthew Crotty, Thomas Jarrard, and Robert W. Mitchell took the case on behalf of the pilots. The three attorneys are all military Veterans, and are very familiar with USERRA law.

The amount awarded is among the largest civil settlements of its kind. U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez, who signed off on the settlement, believes the case should serve as the archetype for similar cases in the future.

Service members, Veterans National Guardsmen, and Reservists have employment protection und USERRA law. If you serve or have served in uniform and you think that you may have been discriminated against because of your service, then you should research your rights under USERRA.

Check out this resource on the Department of Labor’s website, the USERRA Advisor.The USERRA Advisor was developed by the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). It includes links to more detailed information, such as links to regulatory text, publications and organizations. Additional information is also available from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

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Military Connection: Vets Win USERRA Case: By Debbie Gregory