Mark J. Lesko, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced today a settlement with Maimonides Medical Center (Maimonides) in Brooklyn to resolve a lawsuit filed on behalf of Lieutenant Colonel Louis Rego, a U.S. Army Reservist and former Maimonides pharmacist. Maimonides is the largest hospital in Brooklyn and is an affiliate of Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer. According to the United States’ complaint, Maimonides violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) by terminating Lieutenant Colonel Rego’s employment in the Pharmacy Department after he was called up to active military duty status. USERRA prohibits discrimination in employment based on an individual’s prior service in the uniformed services; current service in the uniformed services; or intent to join the uniformed services. Under the terms of the settlement, Maimonides will pay Lieutenant Colonel Rego $195,000 to compensate him for lost wages and other damages. The settlement also requires Maimonides to provide annual training to hospital officials and human resources staff on the rights of service members under USERRA.
“Lieutenant Colonel Rego’s honorable service to his country cost him his job as a pharmacist, even though USERRA flatly prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on account of their military service,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Lesko. “This Office is firmly committed to enforcing USERRA’s requirements and to holding employers like Maimonides accountable for their failure to comply.”
Rego was ordered to full-time active duty with the U.S. Army Reserves on July 17, 2017, when he was deployed for a tour of duty with U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency at Fort Detrick in Maryland. Rego took a leave of absence from Maimonides in order to perform his military service. Rego returned to work at MMC on October 2, 2017. Just seven weeks later, on November 21, 2017, Rego was informed by a supervisor that his position was being eliminated and that he was being terminated as part of a reduction in force designed to save money at the hospital. Rego was the only employee terminated of the more than 100 employees in the Pharmacy Department. After Rego was fired, Maimonides promoted and gave pay raises to two mid-level managers in order to cover some of Rego’s duties, used non-managers to perform other duties and paid those non-managers overtime. Maimonides also hired new Pharmacy Department employees immediately before and after it fired Rego and had posted an opening for his job on a job search website one week before he was dismissed.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability and Maimonides denies that it has violated USERRA.
The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean P. Greene-Delgado of the Office’s Civil Division.
The protection of servicemembers’ rights is a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Individuals who believe they may have experienced discrimination, harassment or retaliation on account of their military service should contact the United States Attorney’s Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division by e-mailing email@example.com. Additional information about USERRA can be found on the Justice Department’s websites at https://www.justice.gov/crt/employment-litigation-section and www.servicemembers.gov, as well as on the Labor Department’s website at www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/main.htm.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No.: 21-CV-2448