Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reservist Screwed by Employer, Awarded $1 Million

A Federal judge has issued the largest-ever award to a returning military reservist who successfully sued his former employer under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (Former Reservist Wins $1 Million From Employer).

In a case centering on a little-frequented corner of the employment rights of troops returning to civilian life, a federal judge has ruled that Wells Fargo must reinstate a former reservist to his job as a financial adviser and pay him at least $1 million.

- snip -

A jury decided last June that Wachovia had violated his rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, which requires employers to provide workers returning from service a salary, status and seniority similar to what they had before leaving. It was left to Judge Arterton to decide damages.

She did so on Thursday, affirming the jury’s verdict and awarding Mr. Serricchio about $400,000 in back pay and interest, $390,000 in punitive damages, and reimbursement for his legal fees, which are likely to top $500,000. His new salary will be $144,000 for one year, the court ordered, after which he will be back to working on commission.

Although this case dealt with the narrow matter of reinstatement of employees who were paid on commission, I can't help but expect it will strengthen the hand of returning reservists in general, who all too often haven't gotten their jobs back after a deployment, the law notwithstanding.

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