Justia Military Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
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White has been employed as a commercial airline pilot since 2005 and has also served in the U.S. Air Force since 2000, first on active duty and now on reserve duty. As a reservist, he is required to attend periodic military-training sessions. White has taken periods of short-term military leave, usually for a day or two at a time, during which he did not receive pay from United. Under United’s collective bargaining agreement, pilots receive pay when they take other short-term leaves of absence, such as jury duty or sick leave. United also maintains a profit-sharing plan for its pilots that is based on the wages they earn; pilots who take paid sick leave or paid leave for jury duty earn credit toward their profit-sharing plan, while pilots who take short-term military leave do not. White initiated a class action under the 1994 Uniformed Services Employee and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which is intended to prevent civilian employers from discriminating against employees because of their military service, 38 U.S.C. 4301(a). The district court dismissed White’s complaint.The Seventh Circuit reversed. USERRA’s mandate that military leave be given the same “rights and benefits” as comparable, nonmilitary leave requires an employer to provide paid military leave to the same extent that it provides paid leave for other absences. Paid leave falls within the “rights and benefits” defined by the statute. View "White v. United Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law

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Hackett, a South Bend patrolman and an Air National Guard reservist, applied to become a bomb squad technician. Membership on the squad did not constitute a promotion or immediately affect an officer’s pay but could lead to additional work and specialty pay. Hackett was not among the three officers selected. He testified that the director of human resources said that he was the most qualified candidate but was not selected because of his pending seven-month deployment. Hackett filed complaints with the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Labor. The city then offered Hackett a bomb squad position. Other squad members were informed that one would have to give up his position for Hackett. Hackett claims he was never allowed to complete the training. Around the same time, Hackett applied for a promotion. Hackett was deployed when applicants were scheduled to interview. The department moved Hackett’s interview but Hackett was unable to timely submit his work sample.Hackett sued under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, 38 U.S.C. 4301. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the city, rejecting a new hostile work environment claim as forfeited. Hackett failed to challenge findings that his exclusion from the bomb squad did not constitute a materially adverse employment action and that no reasonable jury could find that the promotion process was tainted by any impermissible motive. View "Hackett v. City of South Bend" on Justia Law

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Sergeant Mueller took a leave of absence from the Joliet Police Department to report for active duty in the Illinois National Guard Counterdrug Task Force. The Department placed him on unpaid leave, Mueller resigned from his National Guard position and sued the city and his supervisors for employment discrimination, citing the Uniformed Service Members Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which prohibits discrimination against those in “service in a uniformed service.” The district court dismissed, finding that National Guard counterdrug duty was authorized under Illinois law and not covered by USERRA. The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding that “service in the uniformed services” explicitly covers full-time National Guard duty, including counterdrug activities, 38 U.S.C. 4303(13). USERRA does not limit protection to those in “Federal service” like the Army or Navy but to those in “service in a uniformed service,” which explicitly includes Title 32 full-time National Guard duty. The Posse Comitatus Act likewise only bars the Army and Air Force from domestic law enforcement, but does not apply to Title 32 National Guard duty, 18 U.S.C. 1385. View "Mueller v. City of Joliet" on Justia Law

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In 2009, U.S. Army Specialist Schaefer was killed by a roadside bomb while serving a tour of duty in Iraq. Those directly responsible for such attacks are often unidentifiable or beyond the reach of a court’s personal jurisdiction. Secondary actors, such as the organizations that fund the terrorists, are often amorphous. Despite Congress’s effort to make state sponsors of terrorism accountable in U.S. courts (28 U.S.C. 1605A) any resulting judgment may be uncollectible. Spc. Schaefer’s mother claimed that the bomb that killed her son was a signature Iranian weapon that traveled from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to Hezbollah to Iraqi militias, who then placed it in the ground and that Deutsche Bank, a German entity with U.S. affiliates, is responsible for her son’s death under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 18 U.S.C. 2333. She argued that the Bank joined an Iranian conspiracy to commit acts of terror when it instituted procedures to evade U.S. sanctions and facilitate Iranian banking transactions. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of her suit, which “failed to plead facts that plausibly indicated that Deutsche Bank’s actions caused her son’s death.” The Bank’s conduct was not “violent” or “dangerous to human life” as the ATA requires, nor did it display the terroristic intent. To the extent Deutsche Bank joined any conspiracy, it joined only a conspiracy to avoid sanctions, distinct from any of Iran’s terrorism-related goals. View "Kemper v. Deutsche Bank AG" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff began his military career in 1983, serving in the Indiana National Guard, the Army, and the Army Reserve. He was a Captain and served in combat in Iraq. In 2007-2011 he sustained several injuries and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He was placed on reserve status while a Physical Evaluation Board evaluated his fitness for continued military service. When retired from the army on grounds of physical disability in 2014, Futrell became eligible for a monthly government pension. Had paperwork been processed, he would have also received incapacitation payments during the gap between his release from duty and his retirement; he received no government payments between December 2011 and January 2013, causing him severe financial and emotional distress. In 2013, the government paid him an amount that covered the incapacitation payments that he should have received, but did not compensate for his distress. He filed suit against under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2674. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of the suit as barred by a Supreme Court holding that the Act is unavailable to a member of the armed forces who “while on active duty and not on furlough, sustained injury due to negligence of others in the armed forces.” The alleged harms all relate to military benefits and were committed by military base staff. That he was on reserve status is irrelevant. View "Futrell v. United States" on Justia Law