Con-way Freight said it's "disappointed" that the U.S. Department of Justice filed a suit involving a Naval reservist who complained about his employment re-instatement, claiming it tried its best to accommodate the former serviceman, including creating a new position for him.
In a statement released Tuesday, the day after the lawsuit was filed, the carrier also said it "has been recognized for its commitment to supporting our employees while they are deployed and when they return to civilian life. Specifically, the company received the Freedom Award from the U.S. Department of Defense, the highest honor a private employer can receive for support of Guard and Reserve employees.
"Consistent with that commitment, Con-way supported Dale Brown when he returned home in 2009. Contrary to the allegations of Mr. Brown and the Department of Justice, the company went well beyond the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act.
"Con-way not only re-employed Mr. Brown, but it specifically created a position for him when he was unable to perform his prior duties due to a permanent shoulder injury he had suffered during his last deployment.
"Con-way proudly supported Mr. Brown during his deployment, and welcomed him back as it has done for hundreds of Con-way employees who have been called to serve our country as members of the National Guard and Reserves," the statement said. "Con-way is disappointed that the Department of Justice brought this action against our company.
"The complaint contains a number of factual and legal misstatements. Con-way is eager to present its case and demonstrate that the allegations made are unfounded."
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Monday alleged the company violated the law by failing to promptly reassign Naval reservist Dale Brown to his former position as a driver with appropriate seniority, once he notified the company that he had fully recovered from a temporary service-related medical disability.
According to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Brown began working for Con-way in 1987 as a driver sales representative. In 2006, Brown was working at Con-way’s Rock Island, Ill., facility when he deployed for active duty.
While in Iraq, he suffered a serious shoulder injury in a truck accident during a night mission. He returned to Con-way in 2009 following an honorable discharge.
Con-way placed him in a lower-paying position due to medical restrictions that prevented him from returning to the DSR position. By 2012, Brown had made a full recovery and notified the company that he was able to resume work as a DSR without medical restrictions.
Con-way refused to return Brown to the DSR position and instead made him apply for open positions as they became available, the law suit said. Months later, the company hired him as a DSR, but treated him as a new employee with no seniority to bid on assignments.
As a result, the Justice Department claims Brown effectively received a 40% reduction in pay compared to what he was earning as a DSR prior to his military leave. It claims he no longer has a regular work schedule because of his loss of seniority, and he must call in each day to see if and for how long he will work on a given day.