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Military-leave suit targets law firm

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The U.S. Department of Justice says an Indianapolis law firm wrongfully refused to re-employ a staff attorney who'd returned from serving in Iraq as a member of the Indiana Army National Guard.

Filing a four-page suit Monday in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, the DOJ is suing on behalf of Mt. Vernon resident and National Guardsman Matthew B. Jeffries who now works as a bankruptcy attorney in Evansville. The suit accuses Indianapolis law firm Mike Norris & Associates of violating the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, which requires those who leave their jobs to serve in the U.S. military be timely re-employed by their civilian employers in the same or comparable position that they would have held if they hadn't left to serve their country.

Jeffries was called to active duty in February 2003 and deployed at the beginning of the Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. Returning in April 2004 with an honorable discharge, he contacted Mike Norris & Associates about returning to his job and the firm refused to re-employ him, the suit alleges. Jeffries filed a complaint with the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS), which investigated, determined the claim had merit, and referred the matter to the justice department.

Jeffries couldn't be reached at his Evansville office Tuesday morning, and Norris declined to comment on the allegations. His counsel, Indianapolis attorney Dan Emerson at Bose McKinney & Evans, said he wasn't aware that his client had been served the complaint yet and that it would premature to comment before that happens.

More than three dozen of these USERRA cases have been filed nationally since the start of the Iraqi war in 2003, including six this year, according to the DOJ employment litigation section Web site. One filed Feb. 27, 2009, in Dayton, Ohio, involved Indiana National Guardsman Kevin Stenger, who was put in a lower position after returning from a two-week annual military training to his job at industrial electrical contractor Wagner Industrial Electric. Instead of getting his previous position of foreman, Stenger was given the spot of journeyman and received a lower salary, fewer responsibilities, and less overtime opportunity. That suit remains pending.

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  1. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  2. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  3. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  4. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

  5. Finally, an official that realizes that reducing the risks involved in the indulgence in illicit drug use is a great way to INCREASE the problem. What's next for these idiot 'proponents' of needle exchange programs? Give drunk drivers booze? Give grossly obese people coupons for free junk food?

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