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Truman, feds settle lawsuit

August 11, 2012
Kylie Saari - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

TRUMAN - The city of Truman and the federal government have settled a claim involving the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, related to the city's dismissal of police officer Mike Schutz, an Army Reservist, in 2011.

Schutz was re-employed as a part-time officer upon his return from active duty, despite being a full-time officer prior. The act requires employers to re-employ service members at pre-service positions promptly upon their return.

Schutz began as a full-time officer with Truman's police department in May 2005. He was deployed overseas in October 2009 and returned to part-time employment in Truman in November 2010. According to the city, Schutz was given a part-time position because of budget limitations.

After filing his claim under the act, Schutz was put on administrative leave for about three weeks before being dismissed for allegedly falsifying payroll records. An investigation revealed a discrepancy of an hour and 45 minutes.

Schutz and the federal government accused the city of retaliation.

This past March, the city did re-hire Schutz full time. Several city leaders even apologized to him. But none of this ended Schutz's claim against the city.

Despite the settlement, the city maintains it did not violate federal regulations - specifically arguing that Schutz was appropriately re-employed upon his return from Kuwait and was not retaliated against. Jon Iverson, an attorney for Truman, says the city settled the case to avoid ongoing litigation costs.

As part of the settlement, the city must pay Schutz $11,211, the value of unpaid benefits and provide him with 40 additional hours of vacation time for 2012 and 2013. It also must deposit the value of the lost non-wage income into his PERA account, pay his legal fees and remove reference to his proposed termination from all personnel files.

City employees also are required to attend one hour of training regarding the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.



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