USERRA Law in action: United Airlines settles federal case
A U.S. District Judge in Denver, Colo., has approved a $6.15 million class-action settlement between United Airlines and 1,160 United pilots who served in the military from 2000 to 2010—resulting in one of the largest reported payments in U.S. history to resolve a claim brought under the federal veterans’ reemployment rights law, known as the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act or USERRA.
U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez in Colorado signed off on the settlement Tuesday, saying it should serve as a model in similar cases across the country.
The money paid by the Chicago-based airline will go into an account that will be disbursed to the estimated 1,160 United pilots who also served overseas between 2000 and 2010 and received less money in their pension accounts than the law requires, defense attorneys alleged. The lawsuit was originally brought by James D. Tuten, an 18-year pilot with United who lives in Colorado. Tuten served three tours with the U.S. Air Force during that period, leaving United in 2006, 2009 and 2010, according to the lawsuit.
During those periods of leave, contributions were made per company policy to Tuten’s retirement account based on the minimum number of monthly flight hours required under United’s contract with its pilots. The Spokane attorneys argued that Tuten and other veterans should have received monthly contributions totaling the average of their previous 12 payments prior to deploying.
The Department of Labor requires all Employers to provide notice of individual rights under USERRA. An example of that notice can be seen here.