United Airlines Violated Reservist’s Rights to Credited Sick Leave Under USERRA, DOJ Alleges

It is a violation of federal law to deny a military veteran the same benefits afforded to other employees taking similar types of leave.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, United Airlines violated that requirement under the  Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).in the way it treated  U.S. Air Force Reservist Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Fandrei.

In a lawsuit filed against the airline, the DOJ alleges that it failed to credit Fandrei for sick leave when he was actively deployed in 2012 and 2013.

During that time, Fandrei was mobilized as a KC-10 pilot in Southwest Asia.  Fandrei served his country as part of the Air Force from 1990 until 2016.

“When our servicemembers are deployed in the service of our country, they are entitled to retain their civilian employment and benefits, and to the protections of federal law that prevent them from being subject to discrimination based upon their military obligations,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois.

The lawsuit filed by the United States seeks damages equal to the amount of Fandrei’s lost benefits caused by United’s failure to comply with USERRA.  It also seeks an order requiring United to comply with all provisions of USERRA.

USERRA protects the rights of uniformed servicemembers to retain their civilian employment prior to, during and following absences due to military service obligations, and provides that servicemembers shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations.  Under USERRA, the department has authority to represent a servicemember if the department is satisfied that the servicemember is entitled to the rights or benefits being sought.

Lean more about veterans’ rights under USERRA here.

There’s more background on the DOJ’s lawsuit here.

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