A recent decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Escher v. BWXT Y-12, LLC, highlights an important aspect of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”), and also reminds us of the importance of having both a sensible computer usage policy and a reasonably clear conflict of interest policy. The case went the employer’s way, but it might have been a different story without the correct policies.
The employer, BWXT Y-12, LLC, the managing and operating contractor for the National Nuclear Security Administration at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, terminated an employee. He sued on various grounds, including the contention focused on here: that he was terminated in retaliation for complaints he made about BWXT’s military leave policy. Contrary to the employee’s contention, BWXT claimed he had been fired for performing work for his Naval Reserves position while on company time and with company resources. The district court granted summary judgment to BWXT. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.