June 1, 2021 | Bill Esler
Indianapolis, IN – An Ashley Furniture retail operation, DSG Indiana, settled a federal suit filed by the Justice Department over its refusal to rehire a worker returning from National Guard duty.
The Justice Department announced May 25 that it had filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of Captain Christopher Robbins of the Indiana Army National Guard against DSG Indiana, a limited liability corporation, doing business as Ashley Home Store (“Ashley Furniture”), alleging that Ashley Furniture violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 when it failed to promptly offer Robbins re-employment after his return from active duty military service.
“The Department of Justice expects employers to fully comply with their reemployment obligations under the law,” says Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress. “Where employers fall short in doing so, we will aggressively vindicate the reemployment rights of service members.”
Robbins, a member of the Indiana Army National Guard since 2006, began working as a salesman at an Ashley Furniture Store in Greenwood, IN in 2014. During the summer of 2017, Robbins provided notice to Ashley Furniture that his military service obligations with the National Guard required him to attend a mandatory, one-month-long, out-of-state military training exercise with his unit. The complaint alleged after completing his training obligation, Robbins promptly sought re-employment as a salesman with Ashley Furniture and agreed with the company’s representatives on a return to work date. Ashley Furniture, however, did not allow Robbins to return to work on the agreed upon date, and instead fired him two days prior to the scheduled return.
“Federal law protects the right of service members like Captain Robbins to resume their jobs when they return home,” says Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “It guarantees that members of the armed forces are not forced to sacrifice their continued employment on top of the sacrifices they have already made in order to fulfill their military obligations.”
This lawsuit stems from a referral to the United States Department of Justice from the United States Department of Labor, after an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. The settlement, which included $6,000 payment to Robbins was reported May 27 by the Indianapolis Star.
The Justice Department says it gives high priority to the enforcement of service members’ rights. https://www.justice.gov/crt-military/employment-rights-userra
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