A former staff attorney at Mike Norris Law in Indianapolis who left to serve in Iraq is expected to receive $40,000 in lost wages to resolve allegations that his employer refused to rehire him after he returned from combat, the Justice Department said today.
The Justice Department in March filed a complaint on behalf of Mathew Jeffries, a member of the Indiana National Guard who was deployed to Iraq in February 2003, according to court records. After completing active duty service in April 2004, Jeffries unsuccessfully tried to get his old job back.
The complaint against the firm alleged it violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. The law, subject to certain limitations, requires that servicemembers who leave for military service be reemployed in their old job—or in a comparable position—upon the completion of service. The Justice Department Civil Rights Division has filed 19 similar lawsuits this year on behalf of servicemembers.
When the firm allegedly refused to reemploy Jeffries, he filed a complaint with the Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. The program investigated the complaint, found it had merit and forwarded it to the Justice Department. Justice filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Click here for a copy of the complaint.
A representative of Mike Norris Law was not immediately reached for comment this afternoon. Bose McKinney & Evans partner Andrew McNeil, lead counsel for Mike Norris Law, declined to comment this afternoon. The firm, according to the proposed settlement agreement, denies that it violated federal law. A public copy of the planned agreement is here.
The consent decree between Mike Norris & Associates and the Justice Department must still be reviewed by a federal district court judge. Civil Rights Division deputy chief Esther Lander and senior trial attorney Jay Adelstein were the lead attorneys for Jeffries.
“Individuals who sacrifice to serve our Country in the military deserve to know, at the very least, that they can return to their civilian jobs after military service,” Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “This consent decree demonstrates again our commitment to vigorously enforcing federal laws that protect the employment rights of men and women serving in the military.”