Boston, Massachusetts - The Justice Department announced that it finalized the settlement of a claim against Akal Security to protect rights guaranteed to a military reservist, Chief Petty Officer Robert M. Diaz (Ret.), by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
Since 2005, Diaz has worked as a full-time Court Security Officer (CSO) at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston. He also served our country as a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, and from October 2012 to September 2015 was on an active duty military deployment. Akal Security managed the CSO contract in 2012, at the time Diaz left for military service. When he returned from service, Diaz returned to his CSO job, but his pension was not credited with the time he would have worked as a CSO but for his military duty, as required by USERRA. In the settlement agreement announced today, Akal will compensate Diaz for the pension credits and benefits he lost during this period in service to the country.
“We are grateful to Mr. Diaz and the other men and women of our Armed Forces for the sacrifices they make in service to this country,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “When our country calls servicemembers to duty, the Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the laws designed to protect them from discrimination in their civilian jobs, including ensuring that they receive proper pension benefits.”
“Our laws protect the civilian careers of the brave men and women who serve our country. The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing those laws when employers violate them,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Fred Federici for the District of New Mexico. “Members of the Reserves are often called away from their civilian jobs in order to provide the security upon which our nation depends. They should not have to fear losing their jobs or, as here, their pension benefits, when they answer that call.”
USERRA protects the rights of uniformed servicemembers to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations, and provides that servicemembers shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations. USERRA also requires pre-deployment employers to provide pension benefits when their employees are called to active duty. The Justice Department gives high priority to the enforcement of servicemembers’ rights under USERRA.