Friday, October 28, 2005

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit with S.O.G. Specialty Knives, Inc. Over Employment Benefits for a Coast Guard Reservist

To: National Desk

Contact: U.S. Department of Justice, 202-514-2007 or 202-514-1888 (TDD)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with S.O.G. Specialty Knives, Inc. (SSK), resolving a lawsuit filed to protect the rights of a United States Coast Guard reservist who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We have a duty to our men and women in the military to enforce vigorously their legal right to be free of employment discrimination on the basis of their military service," said Bradley J. Schlozman, acting assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Particularly at a time when these brave individuals are putting their very lives on the line in defense of our freedom, such discrimination cannot and will not be tolerated. We are very pleased to see a positive resolution in this case."

The complaint alleges that SSK violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by improperly discharging the plaintiff from his position when he was called to active duty in January 2003. The complaint also alleges that SSK failed to properly re-employ the reservist to a position of similar status and duties upon his return.

The Veterans' Employment and Training Service of the Labor Department referred the serviceman's complaint to the Justice Department upon completion of its investigation. In the consent decree, which must be approved by the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, SSK has agreed to compensate the plaintiff.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Schlozman noted that SSK voluntarily cooperated with the investigation of the Coast Guard reservist's USERRA complaint and, while denying any wrongdoing, agreed to provide him compensation.

This is the eighth USERRA complaint filed by the Justice Department since the Civil Rights Division received enforcement authority for USERRA cases in September 2004. USERRA protects the re-employment rights of service members or veterans upon their return to civilian life from active duty. To learn more about USERRA, go to


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