Employers Can Be Held Liable For Discriminating Against Employees Using Military Leave

Recently PostalReporter posted information about Richard Erickson, a distribution Clerk  fired from his position at Fort Myers Processing and Distribution Center (Fort Myers, Florida). Erickson filed an MSPB appeal under Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), asserting that he was improperly removed because of his military service and requesting that he be reinstated. The case was recentlyt sent back to MSPB to determine if the the Postal Service discriminated against Erickson because of his military leave.

Here is information on a recent Supreme Court decision which held employers who discriminate against veterans can be held liable:

The Supreme Court has issued a significant ruling in favor of employees who are issued discipline based on the reported misconduct of the employee by a supervisor who is motivated by unlawful animus.  This routinely comes up when a supervisor retaliates against an employee by recommending discipline to another official, who then acts on the reported misconduct.

The Postal Service typically tries to avoid liability in such cases by asserting the officials who decided to issue discipline had no discriminatory or retaliatory animus.  This will no longer be an absolute defense to claims of discrimination and retaliation and the Supreme Court shifted the burden of proof to the employer to prove such a defense.

In STAUB v. PROCTOR HOSPITAL, the Supreme Court decided that held if a supervisor performs an act motivated by antimilitary animus that is intended by the supervisor to cause an adverse employment action, and if that act is a proximate cause of the ultimate employment action, then the employer is liable under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.

In Staub, the supervisor was upset that the employees frequent leave for military service disrupted the schedule.  The supervisor complained and new work rules were adopted for the employee.  Ultimately, the employee violated the new rules, and he was removed by upper management. Even though the person who acted on the report of rule violation was purportedly ignorant of the supervisor’s military animus, the employer is still deemed to have retaliated against the employee for his military service.

The opinion is short and succinct and can be viewed at Cornell University Law School
Glenn L. Smith, www.uspostallawyer.com

2 thoughts on “Employers Can Be Held Liable For Discriminating Against Employees Using Military Leave

  1. Unfortunately the U.S.P.S.’s management has always had the idea that they were a law in and of themselves.This goes back to the days when they were a government department and had a workforce exclusively of veterans who did what they were told without question.When collective bargaining came along management could not make the transition and fought hard against change.This is still true today as one can see unqualified people still making decisions in the old mindset that cost the U.S.P.S. dearly in terms of monetary awards!This not only is the case with brave American servicemen who protect you and me but also with anyone considered different in their eyes.One need only look no further than N.R.P. to see where their next liability lies,because equal employment is law not choice and bad choices, at times, incur substantial adverse judgments!

  2. %$#@#$ the Supreme Court. We will fire them at will unless they bring a note from the Talaban stating, “yeah we’re still shooting at him”.

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