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October 2014

Gordon & Rees Los Angeles Team Wins Summary Judgment in Wrongful-Termination Suit

On Oct. 3, Gordon & Rees partners Debra Ellwood Meppen and Anthony Bellone and associate Elizabeth Ernster of the Los Angeles Employment Group won summary judgment in a suit alleging wrongful termination and violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).  The court held that there were no genuine issues of material fact and granted judgment as a matter of law in favor of the defendant. 

Gordon & Rees’s client is a well-respected and recognized leader in the underground pipeline construction industry.  The plaintiff requested and was granted a leave of absence under USERRA to attend boot camp for the National Guard.  The plaintiff alleged that upon the completion of his military leave approximately 74 days later, he was retaliated against for taking leave and was wrongfully terminated in violation of USERRA. 

The defendant argued that the plaintiff was not terminated, but instead never attempted to return to work after his leave.  Additionally, the defendant argued that the plaintiff did not comply with USERRA as he never filed a request for re-employment.  After the lawsuit was filed, upon Gordon & Rees’s recommendation, the client issued an unconditional offer of reinstatement, indicating that the lawsuit was its first notification that the plaintiff’s military leave had ended.  The plaintiff failed to respond to the offer.  

The plaintiff initially filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, but it was removed to federal court. The court entered judgment as a matter of law concluding there were no genuine issues of material fact.

The summary judgment ruling fully disposed of the case only one week prior to mediation and five weeks before trial was set to commence.

Anthony J. Bellone
Elizabeth A. Ernster
Debra Ellwood Meppen



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