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May 20, 2008
County Accused of Violating Servicewoman's Reemployment Rights

A county in Tennessee has agreed to settle a Department of Justice lawsuit accusing it of violating the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by failing to reemploy promptly a part-time emergency medical technician (EMT) upon her return from military service.

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The department also alleged that Gibson County violated USERRA by failing or refusing to promote the servicewoman to a full-time EMT position.

The servicewoman, a staff sergeant in the Tennessee Army National Guard, was deployed to Iraq in July 2004. Upon her completion of active duty in July 2006, she received an honorable discharge and contacted the county to seek immediate reemployment in her EMT position.

The department alleged that the county took about 3 months to reemploy her. The county reemployed her only as a part-time EMT, even though the county at that time had filled a full-time EMT position with a part-time EMT with less seniority than the servicewoman, the department alleged.

The settlement, if approved by the court, requires Gibson County to promote the woman to a full-time EMT position, at the level of seniority, status, and compensation that she would have enjoyed had she not served on active duty in Iraq . The settlement also requires the county to provide her with an award of $17,000.

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