Mountain View Voice

News - December 3, 2010

MV company denies it fired soldier

Titan Labs says worker was not overseas as Justice Department claims

by Daniel DeBolt

Titan Labs of Mountain View is denying charges from the U.S. Justice Department that it fired an Army reservist called to duty, saying he was never actually deployed.

Last week the Justice Department said it was suing Titan Labs for firing Mountain View resident Miguel Orozco Garduno after he was deployed as an Army reservist. Through a widely circulated press release, the Justice Department claimed this was a violation of the 1994 Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which prohibits employers from firing employees for being called into active military service.

The Justice Department pointedly claimed in the press release that the company "terminated Orozco's employment because of his military obligations."

But Titan's president Harvey Berger denied that allegation, saying "this is a very unusual case, a lot of unusual things have happened. He never went, that's the whole problem. He was never sent overseas even though we have orders he was to be gone 400 days. Had he gone, we would have hired him back immediately."

The Justice Department apparently believes Orozco did perform some military duties while he was away as the press release mentions Orozco completing "honorable military service" before being denied his job upon his return.

Berger said Orozco had worked at Titan Labs for nine years and had been given his job back once before after he was deployed to Iraq for two years.

"We're mindful of our obligations," Berger said.

The Justice Department also claims that Orozco had been replaced by an employee who does not have military obligations.

Berger said he was surprised by the lawsuit, which he said was "premature" as the company has been in settlement talks with Orozco. Berger said he still hoped to reach a settlement agreement.

The Justice Department had strong words of warning for companies that might fire deployed members of the military.

"Rather than face discrimination because of their military obligations, our service members should be honored for the sacrifices they make, and they should know they will not have to also sacrifice their jobs to serve our country," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, in the press release. "The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing federal laws that protect the employment rights of our service members."

Titan Labs is located on Wright Avenue and manufactures various degreasers, hand cleaners and solvents.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by user, a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Titan president Harvey Berger should be put out of his job!
If you received orders for him to be gone, no matter where it may be, you are to legally release him & take him back upon his return. He worked for the company 9yrs so it wasn't like he was on probation. I bet if it were his son in this position he would be furious at that company. I'm ashamed to have you as a part of the bay area. President Harvey Berger, you are the JERK of the year!!! It's ok though. Karma always has a way of showing up...


Posted by Sean, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm

What grounds does Titan Labs have for accusing this man of not fulfilling his military obligations?

This seems pretty stupid of Titan Labs, and it kind of sounds like they are splitting hairs over where he served.


Posted by Vet, a resident of Whisman Station
on Dec 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Titan will experience the full force of the law for this. No soldier should be denied their job upon returning from duty. If any thing, they should be guaranteed their job for 2-3 times their length of service. And what say does Titan have in "settling" anything? Berger is the one who should lose his job.

BOYCOTT TITAN PRODUCTS!


Posted by MVFlyer, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 2, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Here's the entire complaint: Web Link

Seems Miguel did his job--there appeared to be some uncertainty whether he'd be shipped overseas or not, but that is irrelevant--it's not Miguel's fault that the Army changed its mind. He's called up, he has to go, and the law is clear: you must reinstate him at the same job (or comparable). No ifs ands or buts.

Berger will get his due. And Miguel---THANK YOU FOR SERVING!!!!!


Posted by ed, a resident of Gemello
on Dec 2, 2010 at 4:54 pm


You can read the govt's argument here:

Web Link

It does look like Titan deliberately cut the guy loose. I guess his service to his country was a little to inconvenient for Berger.

But what do expect from people in a town that hosts the Day Worker Center full of illegals looking for a free ride?


Posted by John the Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm

This is a horribly written story. What exactly is Titan's side of the story? What exactly is the DOJ's side of it?

This is one of the worst pieces I've ever read on MV Voice.


Posted by JC, a resident of Jackson Park
on Dec 4, 2010 at 7:26 pm

There are lots of missing information here. Company gets told a worker is being deployed for 400 days, they hire a replacement and now he back early. Sounds like a communication problem not a law suit.


Posted by Support our Troops, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm

this is disgusting and Harv Berger has NO heart, it doesn't matter where he was, he was on Active Duty at the time of getting fired as well as the way he fired him. Harv didn't even tell him face to face and just fired him in a peace of paper. I am close and caring friend to the Orozco family and they are a wonderful family, the wife is such a respectyful human being and is so involved in the life of her children, her personality is one of the best if not the best, gets along with all of us parents,coaches,teaches,kids,etc... and is extremenly caring, Miguel is such a quiet,respectful as well as a provider and hard working citizen. It is horrible that there are companies like TITAN LABS in the Country and his family and 100% did not deserve this act from TITAN LABS. Also COMMUNICATION was never and ISSUE, Harv always had the DOCS that he needed and that is why Harv Berger should get what he deserves as well as Miguel's ILLEGAL ALIEN "MF" replacement.

BOYCOTT TITAN PRODUCTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by Maria, a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 10, 2010 at 6:14 pm

A sad day when the people who volunteer to keep this country safe have to fight for themselves when they get back from duty. I guess making sure the flow of things at Titan Labs is much more important than our Freedom. God forbid I run out of degreaser or hand cleansers... Shame on you Mr. Berger and Titan Labs.


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