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The Justice Department also claims that Orozco had been replaced by an employee who does not have military obligations.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