Military Reservist and Defense Contractor L3 Technologies Seek Court Approval of USERRA Class Action Settlement

Outten & Golden LLP
October 31, 2018

Proposed Class Action Settlement Provides Compensation to Reservists for Claims They Were Denied Pilot Positions by L3 and Revises Corporate Practices to Benefit Reservist Applicants and Employees

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October 30, 2018–Today, Nathan Kay, a former military reservist, sought preliminary approval of a settlement in a class action lawsuit in which Mr. Kay alleged that L3’s intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) operations in L3 Technologies and Vertex Aerospace LLC (formerly a part of L3 Technologies) had a practice of discriminating against hiring reservists as pilots in L3’s ISR operations based on their ongoing service or status in the National Guard and Reserves.   The lawsuit, which was filed in 2015, alleges that L3 violated the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act ( USERRA “), a federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination based on a person’s military service or status.

Under the proposed class action settlement, L3 Technologies would pay $2 million to settle hiring discrimination claims of the proposed class.   Members of the proposed Class will receive monetary payments under the Settlement if they file Claim Forms demonstrating their membership in the Class and that they were qualified for the Senior Pilot I ” position in L3’s ISR operations between 2011 and 2018.

In addition, under the proposed settlement, L3’s ISR operations that employ ISR pilots will adopt a number of programmatic changes intended to benefit reservist applicants and reservist employees who seek to balance their L3 and military careers, including by: (1) not inquiring into applicants’ military status before making conditional job offers; (2) informing reservists that they are not required to schedule military duty on unpaid days off from work; and (3) adopting scheduling policies to enhance the work opportunities of reservists before and after they take military leave.

In September 2015, Nathan Kay, the lead plaintiff representing other reservists, filed the action, alleging that L3 engaged in hiring discrimination in violation of USERRA.   In early 2017, after Kay and his attorneys conducted discovery, the Court allowed Kay to pursue claims on behalf of a putative class of reservist pilots who were denied pilot jobs by L3.   Today, Kay asked the Court to preliminarily approve the settlement, certify a Class for settlement purposes, and authorize dissemination of notice to Class Members about the settlement.   The Court must provide notice to the Class Members and hold a fairness hearing in 2019 before the Settlement becomes final.

Kay and the proposed Class are represented by Peter Romer-Friedman, Michael Scimone, and Nina Martinez of Outten & Golden LLP, a 65-attorney workers’ rights law firm with offices in New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Chicago; Matthew Crotty of the Crotty & Son Law Firm PLLC, in Spokane, WA; Thomas G. Jarrard of the Law Office of Thomas Jarrard, PLLC, in Spokane, WA; and Michael Love of Michael Love Law, PLLC, in Spokane, WA.

Peter Romer-Friedman, a civil rights lawyer at Outten & Golden and former labor counsel to the U.S. Senate Labor Committee on USERRA rights, stated This is a favorable settlement from both parties’ perspectives that is fair, adequate, and reasonable. This settlement was achieved after hard fought litigation. The settlement gives reservists an opportunity to receive compensation for being denied pilot jobs by L3.   L3 has agreed to make changes to its policies and practices to expand opportunity for reservists who serve in the military and want to work as civilian employees at a leading defense contractor.   We respect and recognize L3’s leadership in taking these positive steps, even though L3 had a very different view about the facts and law in this case. ”

Matthew Crotty, a former reservist in the United States Army, stated, Before I became a lawyer I served in the Army National Guard. Many of my troops would report to me about how hard it was to find work because of their military reserve duty. That’s what got me into representing servicemembers.   It’s nice to play a small part in ensuring that members of the military reserves are treated properly when they apply for civilian jobs. ”

Thomas Jarrard, a former reservist in the United States Marines, stated, Getting results in USERRA cases is the direct consequence of servicemembers standing up to protect their USERRA rights and the rights of other servicemembers. I’m so proud to have been a part of this case. ”

The class action lawsuit is known as Hall v. L-3 Communications Corp., 2:15-cv-00231-SAB (E.D. Wash.), and is pending in the federal district court in Spokane, Washington.   L3 Technologies is an agile innovator and leading provider of global ISR, communications and networked systems, and electronic systems for military, homeland security and commercial aviation customers, with headquarters in New York City and approximately 31,000 employees worldwide. The company reported 2017 sales of $9.6 billion.

L3 denies the allegations, contends that, at all times, it hired pilot applicants based on their qualifications, without regard to their status as reservists, and maintains that during the time period covered by the lawsuit reservist pilots were not hired at a lower rate than other applicants.   According to L3, it is entering into the settlement for the purposes of resolving protracted and costly litigation.