Jury Awards $485,000 Against Catholic Community Services for Military Discrimination as Announced by Gordon Thomas Honeywell LLP
SEATTLE, May 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A federal jury today in Seattle awarded $485,000 to Washington National Guard Sergeant Grace Campbell and found that her employer had engaged in willful discrimination and harassment based on her military service. In 2008, Sergeant Campbell's civilian employer Catholic Community Services fired her from her position of ten years when it learned that she was set to deploy for active service in Iraq. After her termination, Sergeant Campbell served in Iraq from October 2008 to August 2009, returning home to the Everett area without civilian work.
Catholic Community Services' hostile treatment of Campbell began in 2006 after she returned from active duty at the U.S. Mexican border. During Campbell's activation, her position with CCS was left unstaffed. Campbell's manager and her co-workers resented Campbell's absence and the increased workload. Upon her return, Campbell's manager and co-workers began a systematic campaign of harassment and discrimination that included threats by Campbell's manager to fire Campbell if it was learned that she had volunteered for duty.
Campbell complained repeatedly to multiple levels of management at Catholic Community Services about the discrimination, but it continued unchecked. In an effort to find relief, Campbell made a complaint to the Employer Support for Guard and Reserve (ESGR), the Department of Defense national committee tasked with providing support to the Guard and Reserve in their civilian employment. In December of 2006, a retired Naval Reserve Commander with ESGR met with Campbell's managers in an attempt to resolve the problems Campbell was facing at work. Despite ESGR's involvement, the hostile treatment of Campbell continued on into 2007 and 2008.
In February 2008, Campbell told CCS co-workers that she was preparing to deploy to Iraq later that year with the Washington National Guard 81st Brigade. On March 20, 2008, Catholic Community Services fired Campbell.
Campbell's attorneys James W. Beck and Andrea H. McNeely, Partners at Gordon Thomas Honeywell, are pleased with the verdict. "This was a situation which never should have occurred," said Beck. "Sergeant Campbell told her employer about the ongoing discrimination on at least three occasions, but there was never any formal investigation or decisive action to stop the treatment." The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA") prohibits harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against Guard members related to their service. "This is a vindication of the rights of Grace Campbell and those like her who make sacrifices in their civilian lives to serve their country," said McNeely. "Moreover," said Beck, "when the time came at trial for CCS to produce a key document that it claimed was central to its reason for terminating Campbell, the company had destroyed the document." After a two year job search, Campbell is now employed as a receptionist with the Department of Social and Health Services in Seattle.
Gordon Thomas Honeywell LLP is a full-service law firm with offices in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, representing clients in various areas of practice and industries, among them: Business Transactions & Advice, Employment Law, Energy and Renewable Energy, Environment & Natural Resources, Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution, Real Estate & Land Use, Employee Rights & Discrimination, Estate Planning, Injuries & Wrongful Death, Governmental Affairs, Associations & Nonprofits, Banking & Finance, Health Care, Construction, Insurance, Media, Municipalities & Municipal Entities, and Ports. For more information, visit www.gth-law.com.
Attorney James Beck
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