The U.S. Justice Department has reached a settlement with the Jerome County Sheriff’s Office over allegations that the sheriff’s office violated the employment rights of an Army National Guard member when he was recuperating from a knee injury he suffered during military service. While the sheriff’s office doesn’t admit all the violations alleged by the Department of Justice, it agreed to pay the employee, a corporal, $150,000, including $75,000 in lost wages, and to provide a letter requesting his return to eligibility for state employment.
The corporal, Mervin Jones, started working for the sheriff’s office in 2002 as a correctional deputy; he was promoted to corporal in 2007. In 2004, while deployed to Iraq, he injured his knee, an injury that was aggravated in 2008 during a weekend Guard training. In 2009, while Jones was recovering from multiple knee surgeries, the sheriff’s office allegedly denied his request for light duty, required him to fill out family medical leave paperwork unnecessarily, subjected him to an unlawful “fitness for duty” evaluation and physical fitness test and fired him.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, or USERRA, protects the employment rights of service members who leave their civilian jobs temporarily for military service; U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson announced the settlement.