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 U.S. Office of Special Counsel
 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
 Washington, D.C. 20036-4505

OSC Wins Settlement From Army Corps of Engineers
‘Dead-End’ Case Results in Serviceman Recovering Back Pay, Benefits, Promotion

CONTACT: LOREN SMITH, 202-254-3714, lsmith@osc.gov
     WASHINGTON – The U.S. Office of Special Counsel yesterday announced that the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) approved OSC’s settlement of a case filed under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). USERRA is the federal law that protects the civilian careers of persons who perform military service.

     OSC filed the case against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville, Florida, on behalf of Russell G. Jones.

     Jones was an Environmental Engineer at the Army Corps’s Jacksonville District when he received orders from the U.S. Air Force to report for active duty. He served for over two years and requested reemployment after being honorably discharged. The Army Corps denied his reemployment request on the grounds that it was untimely.

     Jones initially sought assistance from another agency that did not believe his case had merit. He then turned to OSC. OSC reviewed his case, disagreed with the earlier determination, and sued the Army Corps before the MSPB.

     Special Counsel Scott Bloch believes this case illustrates OSC’s unwavering commitment to, and effectiveness in, enforcing the reemployment rights of federal employees who serve in the military. “The message that I want our brave service members to hear loudly and clearly is, don’t worry about your civilian jobs while you are deployed,” explained Bloch, “because OSC will vigorously enforce your reemployment rights.”

     Bloch also expressed his appreciation to the Army Corps. “I thank [the Army Corps] for diligently working with my staff to resolve this matter. The Federal government is expected to be a model employer under USERRA, and, in the end, the Corps rose to that level.”

     Under the settlement agreement, the Army Corps will reemploy Jones in his former position of Environmental Engineer, pay him a large lump sum to account for lost wages, make contributions to his Thrift Savings Plan account, and restore his annual and sick leave. The agreement also provides that he be placed on leave without pay for approximately one year to complete his master’s degree. For purposes of rights and benefits based upon seniority and length of service, such as within-grade increases, career tenure, leave rate accrual, and retirement benefits, the Corps will treat him Jones as if he never left the agency.

     Furthermore, the Army Corps has already reviewed its policies and procedures to ensure that employees departing for military service are processed properly and informed of their rights and obligations under USERRA. As part of the settlement in this case, the Corps will also provide USERRA information to all Jacksonville District employees via e-mail, post informational posters on USERRA, and include links to USERRA information on its website.

     USERRA prohibits discrimination against persons because of their service in the Armed Forces Reserve, the National Guard, or other uniformed services. USERRA prohibits an employer from denying any benefit of employment on the basis of an individual’s membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services. USERRA also protects the right of veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and certain other members of the uniformed services to reclaim their civilian employment after being absent due to military service or training.

     Pursuant to a demonstration project established by the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2004 (VBIA), P.L. 108-454, OSC, rather than the Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), has the authority to investigate federal sector USERRA claims brought by persons whose social security number ends in an odd-numbered digit. Under the project, OSC will also receive and investigate all federal sector USERRA claims containing a related prohibited personnel practice allegation over which OSC has jurisdiction regardless of the person’s social security number.



The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency and operates as a secure channel for disclosures of whistleblower complaints. Its primary mission is to safeguard the merit system in federal employment by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially retaliation for whistleblowing. OSC also has jurisdiction over the Hatch Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). For more information please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1 (800) 872-9855.