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Justice Department alleges Texas company fired Army Reservist due to military status

By Mark Iandolo | Mar 5, 2018

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WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced March 1 that WiFi Alliance, a non-profit organization in Austin, Texas, has been charged with violating the employment rights of Lt. Col. Charles O’Donnell, an Army Reservist, under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

“Through this lawsuit, the Department of Justice reaffirms its commitment to protecting the employment rights of the members of our Armed Forces,” John Gore, acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The men and women of our armed services expect and are entitled to the peace of mind of knowing that their civilian employment will not be jeopardized because they serve our country.”

The Justice Department alleges WiFi Alliance terminated O’Donnell’s employment in 2016 in part because of O’Donnell’s reservist status. O’Donnell allegedly acquired positive performance evaluations and, when compared to employees who were not laid off, he had seniority and special job responsibilities.

“Members of our armed forces make many sacrifices, including spending months or years away from their jobs and families,” John F. Bash, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said in a statement. “When our service members are away from their homes, jobs, and families in the service of our country, they are entitled to retain their civilian employment and to the protections of federal law that prevent them from being subject to discrimination based upon their military obligations.”

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