Washington State Patrol Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act Litigation

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Summary of the Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that the Washington State Patrol (“WSP”) has failed to provide military veterans with a veterans preference that is guaranteed under Washington State law when such veterans apply to become WSP troopers or apply to be promoted to the position of sergeant or lieutenant.

Summary of the Claims

The lawsuit alleges that the WSP’s refusal to provide military veterans with state-mandated veterans preferences in hiring and promotion opportunities violates the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”), by denying benefits to veterans and discriminating against veterans and violates the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution by taking away the state-created property rights of the veterans to receive the veterans preference. As a result, the lawsuit alleges that members of the class have been denied opportunities to be hired and advance within the ranks of the Washington State Patrol.

Class Action

This lawsuit is brought on behalf three classes of current and former employees of the Washington State Patrol:

(1) Individuals who, prior to January 1, 2013, applied for employment in the position of Trooper with the Washington State Patrol or were employed by and applied for a promotion to a higher ranking position of employment within the Washington State Patrol, including a position with the rank of Sergeant, or Lieutenant;

(2) individuals who were eligible to receive a Veterans Preference pursuant to RCW 41.04.010(1)-(3) with respect to such application for a position of employment or application for a promotion to a higher ranking position of employment; and

(3) individual who on one or more occasions did not receive such Veterans Preferance in connection with such application for a position of employment or for a promotion of higher ranking position of employment.

Excluded from the class are the Defendants, the Defendants’ legal representatives, assignees and the successors, the judge to whom this case is assigned, any member of the judge’s family, any person who has previously settled the same claims as set forth in this Complaint, and any individual who applied for a position of employment or a promotion to a position of employment other than Trooper, Sergeant, or Lieutenant (i.e. persons who applied for or were employed in non-commissioned positions are not included in the Class, unless they also applied for a position of Trooper, Sergeant, or Lieutenant).

Status of the Litigation

The complaint was filed on January 3, 2013. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on January 13, 2014. Defendants moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint on January 23, 2014, and Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss was denied on March 19, 2014. Defendants answered the Amended Complaint on April 4, 2014. Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint on January 9, 2015, to which Defendants responded to on January 23, 2015.

On May 5, 2017, the Parties reached a settlement in this case on behalf of the class. The settlement will need to be approved by the Court and if the court grants the motion for class certification and grants preliminary approval of the settlement, formal notice will be provided to class members.

A hearing on Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and preliminary approval of the settlement was held on June 9, 2017. The Court certified the Class and granted preliminary approval of settlement the same day. The Court set August 28, 2017 for class members to object, opt out, challenge the data on which the settlement is based or establish their membership in the class.

A fairness hearing on the Settlement was held on September 29, 2017. After the hearing, the Court entered an Order Granting Final Approval of the Settlement Agreement on September 19, 2017. There were no objections to the settlement but the settlement does not become fully final and non-appealable until the time for appeal, 30 days, expires. Assuming that no appeal is filed, the settlement will become final and non-appealable 30 days after the September 29th Order granting Final Approval.

Settlement

The Settlement Agreement provides monetary and non-monetary relief for the Class. The State of Washington has agreed to pay $13 million to cover claims for back pay and benefits and have also agreed to contribute additional money to the Washington State Department of Retirement Services for retirement contributions lost in the hiring or promotions process of Class Members. Under the terms of the settlement, WSP has also agreed to modify the firing or promotion dates for at least 135 out of 769 Employee Class Members and to provide Veterans’ preference in the future.

Media Coverage

Case Documents

Whom to Contact for More Information

If you are a member of the proposed class or you have information which might assist us in the prosecution of these allegations, please contact one of the following persons:

R. Joseph Barton, Esq. (jbarton@blockesq.com)
Ming Siegel, Paralegal (ming@blockesq.com)
Block & Leviton LLP
1735 20th Street NW
Washington DC 20009
(202) 734-7046

Contact us to learn more about this investigation.

Block & Leviton LLP
155 Federal Street, Suite 400
Boston, MA 02110
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