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Fired Navy Vet Files Suit Under USERRA

While deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, former Collections Systems Tech Everett Patten reinjured his knee, requiring a medical evacuation from theater. Patten is a Navy veteran who was called up from his position in the Reserves to contribute to the military effort in the Middle East. He was also a County employee, having worked for Clackamas County for 19 years.

When he returned from duty, suffering from the knee injury exacerbated while in Afghanistan, Patten was greeted with a letter of medic al retirement from his soon-to-be-former employer. According to the county, Patten’s injury made it impossible for him to continue his employment which required him to climb ladders and place other stresses on his bad knee and so he was terminated despite job-protections for vets included in USERRA.

Patten is fighting back against what he believes is a wrongful termination in violation of his rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USSERA). The 1994 Act protects the right of reservists to return to work after being gone for a period of time on military duty. The Act requires employers to accommodate wounded veterans who may require duty or schedule modifications because of a serious injury incurred while activated, called up or deployed.

Patten asserts that Clackamas County ignored its responsibility to veterans under USERRA when terminating his position because of a wartime injury. Because he lost his job, he and his wife were unable to secure a mortgage loan they were pursuing, he lost out on future pay and he was denied the ability to continue contributing to his retirement as an active employee.

Source: Oregon Live, “Navy veteran challenges his forced retirement from Clackamas County job with federal lawsuit,” May 24, 2013

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