Reservist to Get New Chance at Promotion in Settlement of USERRA Lawsuit Against City

As our soldiers conclude their military service, it’s important to honor their rights to return to civilian employment with the same opportunity for advancement than when they began their tours, rights enshrined in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

A settlement announced today between the City of Somerville, Massachusetts and the U.S. Department of Justice will return a Marine reservist to his rightful place following 9 years of being away on active duty.

DOJ filed the lawsuit on behalf of Sean Keane, a firefighter with the city since 1989.

As related by DOJ: Following his return from service, Keane took a lieutenant’s make-up promotional exam to replace the regular administration of the examination that he missed because of his military service.  Keane received the highest score on the test, which placed him at the top of the promotional list, ahead of two firefighters who had already been promoted in July 2013.  When Keane was eventually promoted in October 2014, he requested that his promotion be effective as of July 2013, the date he would have been promoted had he not been away on military service.  He was denied the July 2013 promotion date and, as a result, was deemed ineligible to take a make-up exam for a captain’s position.

Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires that service members who leave their civilian jobs to serve in the military be reemployed by their civilian employers in the positions that they would have held if their employment had not been interrupted by military service.

Under circumstances like those here, federal law also requires that a servicemember be reemployed in a position of comparable seniority, pay and status so that no opportunities for advancement or promotion are adversely affected by military service.

As part of the settlement, Somerville will pay Keane $15,000 in back pay and permit him to make-up a missed examination for promotion to captain.  Based on his score, Keane will be as eligible for a promotion as others who took the examination on its regular schedule.

Here’s today’s announcement of the settlement.


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