Federal Judge Renders Decision in Department of Justice Challenge

 A federal judge ruled in favor of the City of Plymouth in a U.S. Military Reserve Officer’s lawsuit filed in 2012.

According to Plymouth City Attorney Sean Surrisi, Robert D. DeLee who was serving the country in the Air Force Reserves was seeking city longevity pay under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Surrisi explained that longevity pay is additional compensation that the city provides to qualified employees as an incentive to remain in service to the city.

A local ordinance states that longevity pay will be prorated based on the number of months of actual work performed during the year.

DeLee was seeking pay for an entire year on top of the longevity pay. He claimed that longevity pay was a benefit of seniority protected by USERRA and that Plymouth’s local ordinance prorating such pay was in conflict with the federal law.

In a ruling handed down by Judge James T. Moody, the court provided that “USERRA does not prohibit Plymouth from making a pro-rata reduction to [the employee’s] longevity pay for the eight-month period of work he missed while on active duty”. The court further found that the amount of pay was intended to be compensation for work actually performed rather than a seniority-based benefit, as reflected in the city’s ordinance. The ordinance also states that pay for public employees will be given, regardless of their military status, only for time actually worked.