Written by Peter Vieth | The Supreme Court of Virginia will consider whether a federal law designed to protect civilian jobs for part-time military service members applies to state employees.
The court has agreed to review the decision by a Chesterfield County judge who denied job protection benefits for a Virginia State Police sergeant.
VSP Sgt. Jonathan R. Clark complained he was passed over for three promotions after a supervisor expressed annoyance over absences due to Clark’s service with the U.S. Army Reserves.
He sued under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
State lawyers cited court decisions from other states rejecting claims under the federal law because the states had not waived sovereign immunity from such suits.
Clark’s lawyer – Paul G. Beers of Roanoke – argued USERRA is a war powers statute that trumps the sovereignty of the states.
Circuit Judge Lynn S. Brice rejected the war powers argument and dismissed Clark’s claim in August.
On April 7, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Clark’s appeal. The court will rule after briefs and oral argument.