On Monday, the Justice Department filed a complaint against the City of Glendale, Arizona for violating the employment rights of an Arizona Air National Guard member. Captain Rebecca Cruz has served the United States honorably as a member of the Arizona Air National Guard since 2007.
The Justice Department’s complaint suggests that Cruz’s military service was a motivating factor in the city’s decision to terminate her employment. The Justice Department alleges that the City of Glendale hired Cruz as a Management Analyst for the Public Works Department in March of 2016.
At the time of hiring Cruz, it is believed that the City knew she was a member of the Guard. Two months after Cruz was hired, she received notification from the Guard that she would be required to attend training for a new Air National Guard job classification for which she was being assigned. Cruz made the City of Glendale aware and was subsequently fired six days later.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore with the Civil Rights Division made a statement about the matter. “In order to provide the security our national depends on, members of our National Guard, like Captain Cruz, are often called away from their civilian jobs. These brave men and women must be able to fulfill their military obligations without fear that they will lose their jobs in the process, and the Department of Justice is here to ensure those protections.”
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 helps to protect the rights of uniformed service members to retain their civilian employment following absences due to their military service. The act also ensures that service members will not be discriminated against, because of their military obligations.
The Department of Justice’s lawsuit seeks damages equal to the amount of lost wages and benefits caused by the City’s failure to comply with USERRA. The department is also seeking liquidated damages and will attempt to require the City of Glendale to reinstate Cruz to her prior position.