The online retail giant Amazon employs hundreds of thousands of people in Michigan and around the country, and many of those workers are also members of state National Guards or the reserve components of the various branches of the U.S. military. When they are not on active duty, members of the nation’s military reserve forces leave their civilian jobs one weekend per month and two weeks per year to undergo training. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 ensures that they do not face adverse employment actions because of this commitment. A lawsuit filed on May 20 in a New York City federal court accuses Amazon of violating this law.
The lawsuit is being brought by a member of the U.S. Army Reserve who used to work in an Amazon warehouse. She says the online retailer does not comply with a USERRA provision that requires employers to offer reservists the same rights and benefits as other workers. Amazon allows its employees to take paid leave to serve on juries and grieve the loss of loved ones, but the company does not compensate reservists on short-term military leave. The case could become a nationwide employment law class action as Amazon has more than 8,000 reservists on its payroll.
The lawsuit was filed less than five months after Walmart Inc. agreed to pay $14 million to settle a similar claim. The money will be divided among about 7,000 current and former Walmart workers who took time off to perform reserve duties. The retailer has also agreed to implement a new policy that provides reservists with up to 30 days of fully paid leave each year.
Resolving employment law cases
Cases involving alleged violations of federal and state employment laws are often settled before they go to court when the facts appear to be clear. If you believe that your employer may have violated these laws, an attorney with experience in this area could analyze your pay records to identify violations. An attorney could then take legal action on your behalf seeking back pay and benefits that you were entitled to but did not receive.