Fourth Circuit Rules USERRA Retaliation Claim Can Go To Trial

In a recent unpublished opinion, Bunting v. Town of Ocean City, the Fourth Circuit partially overturned a grant of summary judgment and allowed the plaintiff to proceed to trial on his USERRA retaliation claim. USERRA is a federal statute that protects armed service members from being discriminated in employment because of their service. Like other anti-discrimination laws, USERRA also protects against employer retaliation because of filing a USERRA complaint.

In this case, a police sergeant filed a USERRA complaint about service-based discrimination and was subsequently denied promotions that he applied for. While the Fourth Circuit agreed there was not enough evidence to substantiate the initial USERRA complaint, the plaintiff had produced strong evidence of the subsequent retaliation by his employer. Thus, summary judgment was partially reversed, allowing the retaliation claim to proceed to trial.