A Marine reservist who formerly worked for the Union Pacific railroad is suiting the Nebraska-based company after he claims he was demoted and fired for going on a 5-month deployment.
Lieutenant Colonel Rodolfo Quiles sued Union Pacific last week , claiming the company was in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which prohibits employers from demoting, firing or reducing the wages of workers for performing military duties.’
According to Omaha, the lawsuit claims the US Labor Department had investigated the matter and found that the complaints had legal merit- while the company said the lawsuit is baseless.
“Allegations that Union Pacific retaliated against him due to his military service are baseless, and Union Pacific will vigorously defend this case in court,” a Union Pacific spokeswoman said.
The Quiles lawsuit claims that upon return from a deployment, he had found himself demoted from his position of “general manager of safety analysis” to “director of safety analysis”, with reduced responsibilities, staff and a denial of pay raises and bonuses. In addition, he received an unfavorable performance review that ultimately led to dismissal.
“Defendants unlawfully discriminated against Mr. Quiles by, among other things, conducting negative performance evaluations, denial of bonus pay and stock interest, assignment to inferior employment position, denial of job opportunities elsewhere … on the basis of his membership, service, or obligation to perform service in the uniformed service,” the lawsuit says.
Quiles asserts he was hassled by the company when he asked for a reinstatement to his position and was even blocked from transferring to another department.
The online occupational profile of Quiles says that he started at Union Pacific in 2014. He has been a Marine for 22 years, with notable positions such as a junior officer with the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company and the 3rd Landing Support Battalion.
Quiles attorney Robert Black declined to discuss the matter, referring all questions to the lawsuit. Labor Department spokesmen said on Tuesday that the agency does not discuss investigations related to USERRA.
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