Massachusetts Employment Law: Firefighter Alleges Military Service Cost Him a Promotion

A Pittsfield firefighter has alleged in a lawsuit, joined by the U.S. Justice Department, that he lost out on a promotion because he missed too much time due to his commitment to serving as a Navy reservist, the Associated Press reports.

Allegations of Massachusetts military discrimination can result in job loss, loss of seniority or loss of opportunities for advancement.
The firefighter alleges that the city violated The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. Boston employment lawyers know that this act provides protection for those in the military and prevents them from facing discrimination based on their service and taking time for military leave.

Those who are protected include people who serve in the “uniformed services,” which include the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Public Health Service commissioned corps and reserves.

Companies and municipalities aren’t allowed to not hire or not promote workers who provide some form of service to the United States military. But that’s what has been alleged in this case.

According to the news report, the firefighter alleges that he was passed over for a promotion in September 2010, despite scoring higher than another firefighter on the promotion test. The firefighter alleges that his superiors showed “hostility” in a letter regarding his military obligations. They cited his being gone for periods of time between 2007 and 2009 as a reason for not promoting him.

The lawsuit also states that during the interview process, he was asked if he had any upcoming military duty. He scored second highest on the test and the first- and third-highest scoring firefighters were promoted.

The lawsuit seeks a retroactive promotion to lieutenant as well as damages, back pay, seniority he would have had if he had been promoted more than a year ago and other lost benefits. On top of the discrimination, the lawsuit alleges that the city retaliated against him by not reinstating him to a promotion list after he filed a complaint with the U.S. Labor Department.

The firefighter is a 21-year veteran. He served in the Massachusetts National Guard for a year and has been in the Navy Reserve for nearly a decade. He was been called into active duty three times between October 2007 and September 2009.

Bolstering his case is the fact that the United States Justice Department has joined in on the lawsuit. That lends credibility and resources to the firefighter’s fight against the city.

No military veteran should be denied work, a promotion or training simply because they have chosen to serve their country. While businesses are focused more on their own needs than those of their employees, discrimination has no place in this country. If if happens, the violators must be held accountable. This is never more true than when the victim is penalized for serving the nation in a time of war.

If you need to speak to an employment attorney in Belmont, Boston or elsewhere in Massachusetts, contact The Brown Law Firm, LLC, for a free and confidential consultation. Call 617-489-0817 or contact us through this website.

More Blog Entries:

Massachusetts Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Alleges Unfair Treatment by School District: November 3, 2011
Additional Resources:

Mass. firefighter: Military duty cost me promotion, by Mark Pratt, Associated Press

Boston Bar Assosiation