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Court upholds Plymouth pay policy challenged by reservist

April 2, 2014

The city of Plymouth’s policy on longevity pay withstood a challenge by a police officer who unsuccessfully claimed he was entitled to the full benefit rather than a prorated share for time he spent deployed as a U.S. Air Force Reservist.

Plymouth was granted summary judgment Monday by U.S. District Judge James T. Moody of the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend in Robert D. DeLee v. City of Plymouth, 3:12-CV-380. 

Patrolman Robert DeLee, a veteran of the Plymouth Police Department, was called up for eight months during his 12th year of employment in September 2010. For the prior year, he received a check for $2,475, based on his 11 years on the force. Plymouth awards longevity pay of $225 per year.

When DeLee returned to active duty on the police force, he got a longevity check for $900 – $2,700 for 12 years of service prorated by the number of months he was on inactive status as a police officer. Because he was on inactive status for two-thirds of the year, he received one-third of the 12-year benefit. After Plymouth refused his request for the full benefit, DeLee sued, claiming the city’s ordinances violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, 38 U.S.C. § 4316.    

“It is undisputed that if DeLee had remained continuously employed by Plymouth but taken an eight-month leave for any reason, such as an extended illness, his longevity pay would have been prorated just as it was,” Moody wrote in finding for the city. “Thus,
§ 4316 of the USERRA does not prohibit Plymouth from making a pro-rata reduction to DeLee’s longevity pay for the eight-month period of work he missed while on active duty.”
 

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