The U.S. Department of Justice is taking up the fight of a University Place man who claims he came home from war to find his job eliminated.
Justice Department attorneys today filed suit in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on behalf of Dave Axtell.
Axtell, an Air Force reservist, worked as driver supervisor at James J. Williams Bulk Service Transport before being called to active duty in 2005, the lawsuit states. He split time between the company’s Pacific and Kalama locations.
He was honorably discharged in 2009 after serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.
When Axtell tried to return to his civilian job, company officials told him the Pacific portion of his job had been eliminated and that he would have to move to the Kalama area if he wished to retain his management job, according to the lawsuit.
They then offered him a job as a driver at reduced pay and responsibility, the suit contends, and later fired him for what he contends were trivial infractions.
Federal attorneys wrote in the lawsuit the company’s actions violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which protects the employment rights of U.S. military reservists and National Guard members.
“These soldiers have made many sacrifices, and the loss of a career or appropriate pay when they return home cannot be allowed,” Jenny Durkan, the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, said in a news release.
A phone call to James J. Williams was not immediately returned.