Plan Sponsor Settles Claim of USERRA Violation Regarding Pension Benefits
The incident involves a military reservist who was not given service credits for his pension for a period in which he was actively deployed.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has finalized the settlement of a claim against Akal Security to protect rights guaranteed to a military reservist by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
Since 2005, the reservist has worked as a full-time court security officer (CSO) at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston. He was also a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, and from October 2012 to September 2015, he was on an active duty military deployment.
Akal Security managed the CSO contract in 2012, at the time the reservist left for military service. When he returned from service, he 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, Akal will compensate the reservist for the pension credits and benefits he lost during this period of military service.
According to the settlement agreement, Akal denies that it discriminated against the reservist; however, it has agreed to pay him $25,000 in damages less any applicable withholdings it is required to make for payments in lieu of benefits to employees.
“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,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico Fred Federici, in the announcement.
USERRA provides that an individual who leaves a job to serve in the uniformed services is generally entitled to re-employment by the previous employer and, after being rehired, to receive credit for benefits, including employee pension plan benefits, that would have accrued but for the employee’s absence due to the military service.
The case was referred to the DOJ by the Department of Labor (DOL), at the reservist’s request, after an investigation by the DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.
Additional information about USERRA can be found on the DOJ’s website at www.justice.gov/crt-military/employment-rights-userra and www.justice.gov/servicemembers as well as on the DOL’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra.
« Law Group Asks Court to Narrow Standing for Plaintiffs in ERISA Suit