SALEM, Ore. – The state of Oregon says one of its largest cities discriminated against fire fighters because they were National Guard members. The Oregon Department of Justice announced a settlement Wednesday with the City of Salem that puts the city under close federal scrutiny for the next three years.
The Oregon Department of Justice says it received complaints from five current and former Salem firefighters. They allege the fire department refused to give them time off needed to fulfill their National Guard duties.
The firefighters also said managers gave them negative performance reviews and in some cases fired them.
Jim Willis directs of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs. He says it's true that repeated Guard deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade have been tough on employers. But he says, "That does not give them the ability to take any kind of retaliatory action against these folks because they're doing their duty or they've been called to active duty."
The city of Salem admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, but agreed to be closely monitored by a federal judge. City Manager Linda Norris issued a statement calling allegations of systematic discrimination "unfounded."
On the Web:
Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs: http://www.oregon.gov/ODVA/
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act: http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network