OKLAHOMA CITY (March 4, 2010)—Goodyear and the U.S. Department of Justice have settled for $40,000 the lawsuit of an Army reservist, formerly employed at the tire maker's Lawton, Okla., plant, who claimed the company violated his employment rights.
Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Act of 1994 (USERRA), employers must promptly re-employ military veterans after their tours of duty. Michael J. Ellis, a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, was an employee at the Lawton factory before being called up for duty in Iraq in 2005.
Ellis, who had a history of both military and on-the-job injuries, was not rehired immediately after returning home on Sept. 30, 2007. Goodyear said it could not assign him to a job without a further physical examination.
Ellis filed a USERRA complaint against Goodyear with the Labor Department in October 2007.
The settlement, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City, calls for Goodyear to give $40,000 in back wages and other damages. It also requires the company to submit to DOJ monitoring to ensure it complies with USERRA in rehiring veterans.
In a statement, Goodyear denied violating either USERRA or Ellis' employment rights, but said it settled the suit only to avoid the cost of protracted litigation.
“Goodyear provided him (Ellis) with several medical leaves and job accommodations during his employment, and worked diligently with him to secure re-employment at the Lawton factory after his military service,” the Akron-based tire maker said.