Legal Briefs: Military matters

klunney@govexec.com

Every Friday on GovExec.com, Legal Briefs reviews cases that involve, or provide valuable lessons to, federal managers. We report on the decisions of a wide range of review panels, including the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority and federal courts.

The Internal Revenue Service offered a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve a job as a tax examining assistant (TEA). However, the man, who asked that his name not be released, was unable to attend a mandatory five-week training session, due to military duty.

The IRS withdrew the initial job offer, but offered the complainant employment at a time when his military duty would not conflict with the training session. The agency did not include reimbursement for any pay and benefits the man would have earned if not for the withdrawal of the initial offer.

The man filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), claiming the IRS had violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). USERRA says military service members cannot be denied employment, or employment benefits, on the basis of membership or performance in the military.

When VETS said the IRS did not violate the statute, the complainant requested a hearing before the Merit Systems Protection Board. The Labor Department instead referred the matter to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

OSC found in favor of the complainant, concluding that the IRS did indeed violate USERRA. The IRS and the complainant reached a settlement which included a retroactive reinstatement to a TEA position and monetary damages.

Office of Special Counsel case, July 11, 2000.

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