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April 26, 2005
Justice Dept. Files Fourth Military-Leave Lawsuit

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).

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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 comment.

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 2004.

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