June 29, 2022

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Justice Department Secures Settlement of Employment Claim for Air National Guard Reservist Against the Illinois Department of Corrections

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<div>The Justice Department announced that it has agreed to settle its complaint against the Illinois Department of Corrections, which alleged that the IDOC violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by failing to properly reemploy Illinois Air National Guard Reservist Roderick Workman in his proper “escalator position” following his return from military service.</div>

The Justice Department announced that it has agreed to settle its complaint against the Illinois Department of Corrections, which alleged that the IDOC violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by failing to properly reemploy Illinois Air National Guard Reservist Roderick Workman in his proper “escalator position” following his return from military service.

“Those who serve in our Armed Forces make incredible sacrifices on behalf of our country and the Justice Department remains committed to enforcing civil rights laws that protect them in their civilian careers,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Reservists who leave their jobs to serve our country should not lose employment and advancement opportunities when they return from duty. The department will vigorously enforce USERRA to ensure reservists are placed in their rightful positions.” 

In its complaint, the United States alleged that the IDOC failed to properly reemploy Workman as a Correctional Transportation Officer I (CTO I) when he returned from military service in December 2019. USERRA requires employers to reemploy eligible employees returning from military service in their “escalator position,” which is the job it is reasonably certain the employee would have been in had he or she not been called to military service. The United States claimed the CTO I position, which became available during Workman’s military absence, was his escalator position because he was qualified for the position and tried to apply for the position before he left for military duty, and IDOC would have selected Workman had he been there to bid based on his seniority and qualifications.

Under the terms of the consent decree, subject to court approval, the IDOC will pay Workman $9,026.71 in backpay and interest, make changes to its policies, and conduct comprehensive training on USERRA for its employees.

Trial Attorneys Dena Robinson and Hillary Valderrama of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section handled this matter.

The Justice Department gives high priority to the enforcement of servicemembers’ rights under USERRA. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s websites at www.justice.gov/crt-military/employment-rights-userra and www.justice.gov/servicemembers as well as on the Department of Labor’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra.

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