• Military Service Did Not Cause Plaintiff's Failure to Secure Engineering Jobs
  • June 23, 2009 | Author: Justin M. Penn
  • Law Firm: Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP - Chicago Office
  • An employee who was a United States Air Force Reserve member was discharged after a temporary job as an engineer was eliminated. The employee was later turned down for a permanent position. He sued his former employer under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), asserting that the decision was based upon his reserve obligations. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the employee’s claims explaining that a plaintiff must present evidence that his or her military obligations were a “substantial or motivating factor” in his or her termination or failure to be hired. The burden then shifts to the employer to show that the adverse employment action would have occurred even absent the military factor. In this case, even though the employee contended that a manager made an “oblique reference” to his military obligations as a reason not to hire him, the employer proved that the employee’s poor performance during his temporary employment was the deciding factor. Employers should be aware of the special protections afforded to members of the military. But they should also recognize that military service does not bar them from making a bona fide non-discriminatory decision based on an employee’s poor performance.
    Madden v. Rolls Royce Corp., No. 08-1923 (7th Cir. Apr. 29, 2009)