Warren schools, principal settle military leave dispute
Posted November 4, 2013 1:18 p.m. EST
Warrenton, N.C. — The U.S. Department of Justice and the Warren County Board of Education have settled a lawsuit over a school administrator who lost his job while serving in the Army Reserve, officials said Monday.
Sgt. First Class Dwayne Coffer was an assistant principal at Warren County High School and took periodic leave to fulfill his obligations in the reserves, and officials said the school board didn't renew his contract in 2008 because staff members expressed frustration at accommodating his military service during the school year.
Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against service members regarding their past, current or future uniformed service obligations. The law requires employers to promptly re-employ service members following their return from military leave.
Under the settlement, Coffer received a two-year contract as a lead teacher at the salary he would have received had he remained employed. The school board also will pay him $10,000 in back-pay and contribute $13,702 in lost payments to his retirement account.
“USERRA affords military members who leave their civilian careers behind for significant periods of time to serve our country certain protections against unjust terminations,” Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “It is important that veterans have the opportunity to serve their country free from worry about termination without cause.”