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Petty V Metropolitan Government

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Petty v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County
HRM 510: Business Employment Law
Dr. Moore
May 15, 2011

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994 provide employment protection of National Guard and Reserve military personnel. This legislation protects military veterans and reservists' rights with respect to their civilian jobs and benefits, and outlines employee, and employer responsibilities as well (Lundin, p. 20). Additionally, the law requires employers to refrain from discrimination in hiring, re-employment and benefits because of an employee's military service or connection (Lundin, p. 20). Although the USERRA has been effective in protecting the employed military member, it requires some work in the area of hiring new employees. Simply because of their military status, many qualified job applicants are often passed-over, it is an unlawful practice but very hard to prove by the Reserve/Guard member. Simply put, there are thousands of veterans unable to secure employment because it is too easy for the employers to select other non-military recruits. In the case of Petty v. Metropolitan Government the company was accused of violating this legislation.
1. What were the legal issues in this case?
The legal issues in this case involved the treatments of Petty, a former Police Officer who left the Metro Police Department for active duty with the United States Army. Upon his request to be reinstatement, Petty was not placed in his original position as a patrol sergeant or a similar position based on the completion of the return-to-work form n which he did not disclose all the facts regarding his discharge status. The police department return-to-work process is a policy that is required for all officers to complete if they were away for an extended period of time no matter what the reason for their separation. One of the questions on the personal history questionnaire Plaintiff filled out during the return-to-work process asked: “During your absence were you arrested, charged, detained, or a suspect in any criminal action or military disciplinary action for any reason or do you have any action pending? If yes, explain in detail (use back if necessary).” Petty answered “Yes.” He also attached a narrative explanation of his response in which he admitted facing military charges in Kuwait. The narrative description did not disclose: (1) that Petty was accused of giving alcohol to an enlisted soldier; and (2) that Petty was accused of manufacturing alcohol. Since Petty did not mention facing military charges for manufacturing alcohol while in Kuwait, he was assigned to desk work. (Walsh, 2010, p.348) Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), as stated in chapter 11 page 346, employers are prohibited from discriminating against member who serves in uniformed military services. It also guarantees the return of a veteran right of reemployment after military service is required to return to their original position or a similar position. Since the police department fail to abide by the USERRA policy, a complaint was filed against the Metro Police Department. 2. Explain how the reemployment provisions of the USERRA were violated in this case.
In this case when Petty returned from active duty, he request for reinstatement at Metro and since he was away for an extended period of time, he had to go through the company return-to-work process. The Police Department has a return-to-work process for officers who have been away from the Police Department for an extended period of time. This return-to-work process applies to all officers who have been away from the Police Department for an extended period of time, regardless of the reason for their separation. The Police Department's return-to-work process includes a personal history update questionnaire, a medical examination, a computer voice stress analysis, a drug screening, and a debriefing with a Police Department psychologist. In addition, the Police Department requests that returning officers execute a medical records authorization, and for individuals returning from military duty, an authorization to obtain military records. The purpose of the Police Department's return-to-work process is to ensure that every individual entrusted with the responsibility of being a Metropolitan Police Officer is still physically, emotionally, and temperamentally qualified to be a police officer after having being absent from the Department. Once Petty completed the return-to-work process, Metro re-hired him but did not return him to his previous position. USERRA protects the rights of veterans return from active duty seeking reemployment, maintaining their current position, prevents veterans from being discriminated upon their return and protects veterans from being fired without cause within one year of employment. (Walsh, 2010, p.349) The reemployment provisions of the USERRA were violated in this case because Metro delay in the rehire of Petty’ by subjecting him to the department return-to -work process and he was not properly rehired because he was not placed in the position to which he was entitled and he was also denied the ability to work a second job. (Walsh, 2010 p.349) 3. Explain why the court concludes that Petty has a claim for discrimination under USERRA. The court concludes that Petty has a claim for discrimination under USERRA is because they found that Petty met all the prerequisites under USERRA. He informed his former employer of his departure for military service in advance. His length of service was less than 5 years and upon his return, Petty requested reemployment within the time frame allowed and when Petty separated from his military service, he was released under “honorable conditions”. In addition, the court concluded that Petty has a claim for discrimination under USERRA is when Metro denied Petty request to work an off-duty job because of being investigated by the department and the court thought this was the motivation behind Petty’s off-duty job denial. The court also concluded that because Petty failed to provide adequate information to be eligible for reemployment, it was unnecessary for him to establish it in the first place. Upon the return of veterans, USERRA secures them the right, not to ensure that a particular document is produced. Lastly, the court concludes that Petty has a discrimination claim under the USERRA was when Petty was completed the return-to-work process paperwork, he gave the Metro Police Department authorization to access all of his medical and military records. These are the grounds for Petty discrimination claims. 4. Explain what the police department should have done differently.
What the Metro Police Department should have done differently was to honor Petty’s request to be reinstate him after returning from active duty. Also, the return-to-work process policy should not apply to all officers that were away for an extended period of time. If the Metro Police Department is persistent to have this policy, they should make the policy an option to officers that perform active duty. The USERRA is an act that protects veterans the right of reemployment after military service. The act also protects them from being discriminated by employer upon return of their military service and prevents them from being fired within one year of their reemployment. Employers should have tried to make reasonable efforts to retrain or upgrade skills to qualify returning employee instead of focusing on what happened while in active duty.
The USERRA is very strict on the treatment of the employee by the employer. These requirements often put the employer in a difficult position that forces the employer to make concessions for an employee who is on military leave from his or her position. This often requires the employer to hire temporary personnel to fill the position during the absence. Additionally, employees on military leave are entitled to seniority-based rights and benefits that they had on the date their military service began, plus any seniority and seniority-based benefits they would have attained had they remained continually employed (Wright, p. 130). Employers also need to keep in mind that under the USERRA any benefits that would be granted to an employee under any other form of leave will also be granted to the employee on military leave. For the employer this means that if an employee is provided insurance or compensation during personal, maternal, disability or any other form of leave those same benefits must be provided to the employee on military duty.

Lundin, M. (2006). Employment rights act protects employees on military leave. Inside Tucson Business, 16(5), 20. Retrieved from Master FILE Premier database.
Walsh, D. J. (2010). Employment law for human resource practice: 2010 custom edition (3rd Ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
Wright, S. (2003). Discrimination in hiring. Reserve Officers Association, 64. Retrieved May 11, 2010, from…...

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