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Jury finds vet’s rights violated

A Chautauqua Supreme Court jury Thursday found the city of Jamestown Police Department violated the employment rights of a detective by improperly prorating his vacation pay while he repeatedly served as a member of the Air National Guard between 2002 and 2011.

The jury’s decision, according to a release from Tully Rinckey PLLC, ends Lt. Col. Timothy H. Wright’s nearly seven-year legal battle against the city, which will have to pay liquidated damages, also known as “double back pay,” for willfully violating his rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.

Wright began working at the Jamestown Police Department in 1987. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2004. Upon returning to his civilian job, he received little to no vacation time for his periods of military service. The city based Wright’s vacation and leave on the number of days worked the previous year. However, calculating vacation pay that way violated USERRA, which states qualified service members should be provided with the same amount of seniority and other rights and benefits they had when they went on military leave “plus the additional seniority and rights and benefits that such person would have attained if the person had remained continuously employed.”

Wright, who was represented by Tully Rinckey Senior Associate Michael W. Macomber, filed suit in 2007, after again being called to active duty.

His motion for summary judgment was granted on March 23, 2012, in Chautauqua County Supreme Court, which found Wright was “entitled to receive his vacation and leave time as if he had been continuously employed.” The city appealed the decision and last June the Appellate Division, Fourth Department remanded the case for trial.