Home Depot settles National Guard case

The Justice Department and The Home Depot have reached a settlement in a case where the government accused the retailer of unlawfully terminating an employee who was a member of the Army National Guard.

An Iraqi war veteran who lived in Flagstaff, Ariz., Brian Bailey worked as a department supervisor while at the same time serving in the California Army National Guard. Throughout his employment with Home Depot, Bailey took periodic leave from work to fulfill his military obligations with the National Guard. According to the Justice Department's complaint, Bailey was removed from his position as a department supervisor after Home Depot management officials at the Flagstaff store openly expressed their displeasure with his periodic absences due to his military service. The DOJ also claims that store management threatened to remove him from his position because of those absences.

These alleged actions are violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

Home Depot made no admission of wrongdoing as part of the settlement. Spokeswoman Jean Niemi told Home Channel News, “It allowed The Home Depot and the government to avoid the ongoing cost of litigation.”

The agreement, which still must be approved by the federal district court, states that Home Depot will provide Bailey with $45,000 in monetary relief and make changes to its Military Leaves of Absence policy. The settlement further mandates that Home Depot review its Military Leaves of Absence policy with managers from the district where Bailey worked.

“We’re very committed to our associates who serve in the military,” Niemi said. “We would never tolerate one of [them] being terminated for anything other than [a valid] reason.”

This case was handled by the Employment Litigation Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona.