WASHINGTON—Bridgestone/Firestone voluntarily has settled a lawsuit the Justice Department filed on behalf of a National Guardsman who works at the tire maker´s LaVergne, Tenn., facility.
In a suit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, the unnamed solider—who served on active duty between December 2002 and March 2004 in Operation Iraqi Freedom—sought advancement on the company´s progressive pay schedule, rather than being brought back at the same wages he earned before he left. According to the Justice Department, BFS´ failure to raise the guardsman´s pay constituted a violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Act of 1994.
BFS will pay the guardsman about $6,000 in back pay and interest, as well as advancing him on the company pay scale, a company spokesman said. It also is changing its corporate policy regarding employees who are National Guardsmen, and will give retroactive back pay and wage increases to about six other guardsmen on the payroll.
Until now, BFS´ policy has been to grant differential pay to employees on active military service, making up the difference between their soldier´s pay and their BFS wages, which is not required by law, the spokesman said. The court case settled March 29 was the first time any returning employee had filed a complaint on the issue of wages.
BFS denied any wrongdoing in settling the case, R. Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for Civil Rights, said in a news release.