An officer in Washington Army National Guard, who worked almost eight years for Pierce Transit, was not rehired after completing a tour of active duty last September. 

In a settlement announced today by the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, that amounted to a violation of federal law that protects the employment rights of military members, including those in the National Guard, as they perform service to the nation.

Lt. Col. C. Van Sawin, a West Point graduate, had been working at the local transportation district since 2007 and was a Business Development Officer up until November 2015, when he returned to active duty for a statewide earthquake readiness exercise.

Following that week-long test in summer of 2016, Pierce Transit declined to re-employ Sawin, claiming his position had been eliminated in a reorganization while he was away on active duty.

Under terms of the settlement agreement announced today, which is not an admission of liability by Pierce Transit, the government agency must compensate him for lost and/or reduced wages and benefits, and other damages. 

In addition, PT will provide training to its upper-level officials and human resources staff on the rights and obligations under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act. It will also certify its compliance to the federal Department of Justice for the next two years.

Subject to certain conditions, USERRA requires employers to promptly reemploy returning service members in the positions they would have held had their employment been not interrupted by military service, or in a position of like seniority, status and pay.