The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Gulfstream Academy of Aeronautics,
alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights
Act of 1994 (USERRA).
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
Florida, alleges that the academy violated USERRA by firing reservist Hugh Villalobos
because of his service in the Air Force Reserve.
The complaint alleges that the academy fired Villalobos in May 2002, within
hours of the reservist reminding his employer about his upcoming 5-day active
duty tour with the Air Force Reserve. Villalobos's firing occurred shortly after
he completed a two-year leave of absence from the Air Force Reserve, which Villalobos
says he took because he feared that his military service would be the basis
for employment problems with the defendants.
Thomas Cooper, a shareholder of the Gulfstream Academy of Aeronautics, tells
the Associated Press that the academy has yet to see the lawsuit, declining
USERRA protects the reemployment rights of service members or veterans upon
their return to civilian life from active duty. This is the fourth USERRA complaint
filed on behalf of service members or veterans by the Justice Department since
the Civil Rights Division received enforcement authority of USERRA in September