Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Nevada to Safeguard Servicemembers’ Pension Rights

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Nevada to Safeguard Servicemembers’ Pension Rights

Safeguarding Servicemembers’ Pension Rights:

Lawsuit Against Nevada:

The Justice Department has officially filed a lawsuit against the State of Nevada, Nevada Attorney General’s Office, and the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada (NVPERS).

The purpose of the legal action is to protect the employment pension rights of servicemembers called to serve their country on military duty.

The lawsuit alleges that NVPERS, when rehiring state employees after military service, violates the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act of 1994 (USERRA) by overcharging servicemembers when calculating their pension plan contributions.

Commitment to Servicemembers’ Civilian Employment Rights:

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division emphasized the importance of protecting servicemembers’ pension rights during reemployment.

The Justice Department is dedicated to ensuring that those who sacrifice for the country do not have to sacrifice their civilian employment rights, including pension benefits.

USERRA’s Protection for Servicemembers:

US Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada highlighted USERRA’s role in safeguarding servicemembers’ reemployment rights after returning from military service.

The commitment is to ensure that every individual who has served in the country’s uniformed services receives full protection under employment laws.

Allegations Against NVPERS’s Pension Credit Practices:

The complaint reveals that Nevada state employees, upon passing their five-year employment anniversary, can purchase pension credits in NVPERS.

The charges for these pension credits are based on age and salary at the time of purchase.

USERRA mandates employers to restore returning servicemembers’ pension benefits as if they had not been called away to military service.

However, the lawsuit alleges that NVPERS violated USERRA by overcharging reemployed servicemembers based on their age and salary at the time of reemployment, rather than when they passed their five-year anniversary.

Case Example: Impact on Major Charles Lehman:

The complaint illustrates the case of Major Charles Lehman, an employee in Nevada’s Office of the Attorney General.

He was called to active duty with the Nevada National Guard, passing his five-year anniversary during military service.

Upon returning to his civilian job, NVPERS allegedly overcharged him for pension credits based on increased age and salary, exceeding the amount he would have owed without military service by over $38,000.

Justice Department’s Objectives and Demands:

The Justice Department aims to compel NVPERS to change its policy of overcharging servicemembers and seeks refunds for affected reemployed servicemembers, including Major Charles Lehman.

The lawsuit addresses NVPERS’ practice of overcharging, affecting various state employees returning from military service.

Enforcement of USERRA: High Priority for the Justice Department:

USERRA protects uniformed servicemembers’ rights to retain civilian employment post-military service and prohibits discrimination based on military obligations.

The Justice Department places high priority on enforcing servicemembers’ rights under USERRA, aligning with the commitment to protect those who have served in the country’s uniformed services.

Origins and Investigation of the Case:

The case originated from a referral by the Department of Labor (DOL) after an investigation by the DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

Senior Trial Attorney Jeffrey Morrison of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section is handling the case.

Closing Remarks and References:

The Justice Department encourages awareness of USERRA through its websites, providing information about servicemembers’ rights.

The case reflects a collaborative effort between the Justice Department and the Department of Labor to address the alleged violations.

The legal action aims to rectify pension overcharging practices, ensuring fair treatment and protection for reemployed servicemembers.

TDPel Media

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