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National Guard attorney settles with firm

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An Evansville attorney and Indiana National Guardsman is settling a federal lawsuit against the Indianapolis law firm he previously worked for and sued for wrongfully refusing to re-employ him as a staff attorney when he returned from serving active duty in Iraq.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement and consent decree with law firm Mike Norris & Associates, where Mathew B. Jeffries had worked prior to his call to active duty in February 2003. In a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Indiana earlier this year, Jeffries alleged that the firm had refused to re-employ him after his honorable discharge in April 2004, a violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.

The act provides that 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 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. The DOJ sued on Jeffries' behalf in March. Norris & Associates denies that it has violated the USERRA, according to the decree. Under the terms, the law firm must provide Jeffries with $40,000 to compensate him for lost wages and accrued interest.

A Mt. Vernon resident, Jeffries is now working as a bankruptcy attorney in Evansville.

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