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Justice Department Sues Warren County, NC School District For Firing Reservist

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the Warren County School District for violating a military service member’s rights under USERRA.

According to the Justice Department and reporting by the Aiken Leader, SFC Wayne Coffer was employed as a school administrator when he received orders to serve as an instructor for 30 days at a military school. At the time, he was serving as an interim school principal.

When he returned from duty, his replacement interim school principal refused to return his job back to him. When Coffer’s contract came up for renewal, the school superintendent, Dr. Ray Spain and the school board voted to refuse to renew the contract. According to reporting from the Aiken Leader, staffers had been expressing frustration with Coffer taking military leave during the school year. The Stars and Stripes reports that Spain asserted that Coffer had a choice about whether to take military leave.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act specifically protects the employment rights of reservists and Guard members on federal orders, even if they volunteered for the duty.

Later, the individual who refused to step down from the interim principal position to allow Coffer his job back was named the school principal.

Coffer has been in the military for over 20 years and has served in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

The lawsuit seeks reinstatement of lost wages since 2008, liquidated damages, and reinstatement of employment.

A call to Dr. Spain’s office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

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