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Justice Department Secures Promotion and Backpay for National Guardsman in Puerto Rico and Continues to Defend Reemployment Rights of Servicemembers | OPA

The Justice Department announced today that it has resolved a claim that the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) when it failed to reemploy Puerto Rico National Guardsman Sergeant(E-5) Daniel Nazario to his proper position upon his return from military service. Based on the terms of the settlement, PRDE will promote Sergeant Nazario to his proper position as a school director in his preferred school district and will be awarding him backpay and seniority.

“Federal law requires employers to reemploy servicemembers into the positions that they would have held had their employment not been interrupted by military service, and also prohibits employers from denying promotions because of employees’ military obligations,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to protecting the civil rights of service members who sacrifice to serve our country.”

Congress enacted USERRA to encourage non-career service in the military by reducing employment disadvantages; to minimize the disruption to the lives of persons performing military service, their employers, and others, by providing for the prompt reemployment of such persons upon the completion of their service; and to prohibit discrimination and retaliation against servicemembers if they pursue a claim under USERRA.

“The successful settlement of National Guardsman Daniel Nazario’s case with the PRDE, including his reinstatement to a permanent position, is an important step in the enforcement of servicemember rights and serves to highlight the proper treatment that must be afforded to these valuable members of our community ,” said US Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow for the District of Puerto Rico.

At the time of his deployment, Sergeant Nazario was one of six temporary school directors in the Barranquitas school district. During his deployment, the PRDE promoted all the school directors in that district except for Sergeant Nazario to permanent positions. Upon his return from active duty, the PRDE initially rehired him as an English teacher and did not promote him into a permanent school director position. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the PRDE agreed to promote Sergeant Nazario to a permanent school director position with full benefits retroactive to June 2017, the date of his return from active duty, and pay him $2,840.00 in full back wages for his lost salary .

The Department of Labor (DOL) referred this matter to the Justice Department following an investigation by its Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

Senior Trial Attorney and USERRA/USAO Program Coordinator Alicia D. Johnson in the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section (ELS), in collaboration with Assistant US Attorney David Martorani for the District of Puerto Rico prosecuted this matter.

The Justice Department gives high priority to the enforcement of servicemembers’ rights under USERRA. ELS continues to work collaboratively with the DOL to protect the jobs and benefits of military members. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s websites at https://www.justice.gov/servicemembers, as well as on the Department of Labor’s website at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/vets/programs /userra.

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