Walmart Settles USERRA Violation Claims Regarding Short-Term Military Leave Policy
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Walmart recently settled claims regarding alleged Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) violations in the form of reduced leave pay for service members.
The official class action claims that Walmart has been in violation of USERRA regarding short-term service member leave since 2004.
New Hampshire Walmart employee and army reservist Nickolas Tsui filed a class action lawsuit against his civilian employer on behalf of himself and other employees similarly situated regarding the company’s short-term military leave policy. Prior to Walmart’s settlement, service members taking short-term military leave did not receive full wages like those which employees taking comparable forms of leave such as jury duty or bereavement leave received.
According to the official complaint, Walmart has hired over 320,000 veterans and military spouses since 2013, making this no small issue. Class members eligible for recovery in this lawsuit are estimated to number around 10,000 former and current employees.
USERRA specifically prohibits discrimination against employees due to their military service.
Any former or current member of the United States military is protected from employer discrimination by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. When an employer violates or allegedly violates the standards set forth in this act, they may be subject to serious legal repercussions. If you qualify for USERRA, a civilian employer is not allowed to deny you initial employment, reemployment, retention of employment, promotions, or benefits of employment including sick leave and paid-time-off due to your military service obligations. This act also prevents service members from being treated differently than their non-military employee counterparts. With more than 800,000 military members serving in reserve units, service members working civilian jobs in addition to their part-time military job is extremely common.
Walmart provides full wages for employees taking short-term leave for a myriad of reasons, including jury duty or bereavement.
In the case of jury duty, Walmart will supposedly pay an employee their full wages indefinitely until the employee can return. In the case of bereavement, an employee may receive their full wages for up to three days. However, according to the lawsuit, from 2004 to 2008 Walmart allegedly did not provide any pay to employees who took military leave lasting for four or more days, and from 2008 to 2017 only provided differential pay rather than full wages to employees who had to take short-term military leave for four or more days. USERRA requires that military employees be provided the same benefits and employment opportunities as their civilian counterparts; to deny a benefit or opportunity based on a service member’s military obligations is a blatant violation of the act.
Walmart settled the claims in this lawsuit with $14 million and the institution of a new military leave policy.
Rather than fight these claims in court, Walmart agreed to settle with Tsui and the rest of the class for $14 million and the implementation of a new military leave policy ensuring service members taking short-term leave will receive their full wages. This settlement will likely be distributed among the class members to make up for wages that should have been paid during past short-term leave.
To learn more about your employment rights as a service member, talk to a military rights attorney.