U.S. Justice Dept. sues Glendale for employment rights violation

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U.S. Justice Dept. sues city of Glendale. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) U.S. Justice Dept. sues city of Glendale. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint Monday alleging the City of Glendale violated the employment rights of a member of the Arizona Air National Guard.

According to the complaint, Capt. Rebecca Cruz, a member of the Arizona National Guard since 2007, was fired from her job as a management analyst in the Glendale Public Works Dept. in March 2016. Cruz's military service is cited as a motivating factor for her firing.

The complaint states that approximately two months after Cruz was hired, the Guard notified Cruz that she would need to attend military training for a new Air National Guard job classification to which she was being assigned.

Cruz provided her military orders conveying that schedule to the City of Glendale, and six days later she was fired. 

The lawsuit seeks damages equal to the amount of Cruz's lost wages and benefits.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 protects the rights of uniformed service members to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations and provides that service members shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations.

"In order to provide the security our nation depends on, members of our National Guard, like Capt. Cruz, are often called away from their civilian jobs," said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. "These brave men and women must be able to fulfill their military obligations without fear that they will lose their jobs in the process, and the Department of Justice is here to ensure those protections."

The City of Glendale didn't comment on this specific case. However, Glendale said in an email that it is "extremely proud of its record with employees who also serve their country and Glendale has never dismissed an employee based on military leave."

The City also highlighted that it received the 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. 

Glendale also said it exceeds federal requirements by:

  • providing 320 hours of paid military leave annually.
  • paying the difference between the employees’ military pay and city pay if military pay is lower when an employee is called for Extended Military Presidential Call-up.
  • having liaisons who maintain supportive contact with family members while an employee is on leave.

The City also claims that during the past five years, it has had 27 employees who have utilized nearly 15,000 hours of military leave.

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