Department of Justice Reaches Settlement Agreement with Prince George County, Virginia, and the Virginia Retirement System to Enforce Servicemember’s Employment Rights

6 mins read
FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Justice Department announced today that it has settled a civil complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against Prince George County, Virginia, and the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) to enforce employment rights guaranteed to a member of the Virginia Army National Guard, Major Mark Gunn, under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

“Members of our military Reserves who put their civilian careers and lives on hold to serve our country should not suffer adverse employment effects,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to use all legal remedies to enforce the rights of servicemembers to the correct reemployment positions upon their return from honorably serving our nation.”

“The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing the laws that protect the civilian careers of the brave men and women who serve our country,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Members of the Reserves are often called away from their civilian jobs to provide the security upon which our nation depends. They should not have to fear losing their jobs and, as here, their pension benefits, when they answer that call.”

In its complaint, the United States alleged that Gunn had been a detective with the Prince George County Police Department for 14 years when, in January 2016, he was called to active duty by the Virginia Army National Guard. The United States further alleged that when Gunn returned from his active-duty service, the County refused to allow Gunn to return to his detective position. Instead, the County assigned him back to a Patrol Unit officer position. The United States also alleged that the County denied Gunn employment benefits that he would have accrued during his period of active-duty service, including a bonus awarded to County employees. Finally, the United States alleged that the County’s unlawful actions caused Gunn to leave his employment with the Prince George County Police Department and return to active duty in the Virginia Army National Guard.

As relief, Gunn will receive VRS retirement credit for the period of time from when he departed the Prince George County Police Department to when he began drawing VRS retirement benefits. He will also receive the differential in retirement benefits owed to him for this time period. Prince George County will also pay Gunn $1,500 in damages for benefits he should have received from the County and $1,500 in liquidated damages. The County will give Gunn a Retired Law Enforcement Act identification card, a Virginia law enforcement officer identification card, and a retired Prince George County Police Department detective badge, and the County will permit Gunn to purchase his service weapon. 

USERRA protects the rights of uniformed servicemembers to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations and provides that servicemembers shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations. USERRA also requires employers to provide pension benefits when their employees are called to active duty. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Justice Department give high priority to the enforcement of servicemembers’ rights under USERRA. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s websites at www.justice.gov/crt-military/employment-rights-userra and www.justice.gov/servicemembers as well as on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra.

This case stems from a referral by the U.S. Department of Labor, at Gunn’s request, after an investigation by that agency’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deirdre Brou, Lauren Oberheim, and Robert McIntosh, and as a part of the Servicemember and Veterans’ Initiative within the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Trial Attorney Shan Shah in the Employment Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. 

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information from the civil lawsuit are on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:21-cv-631.


The civil claims asserted in the complaint are allegations only; there has been no determination of civil liability.