Everett company defends reservist’s firing

EVERETT — The south Everett battery company that fired an Army reservist more than a year after he returned from Iraq had reason to do so, said its general manager.

Chuck Allen, of All Battery Sales and Service, said he doesn’t understand why the U.S. Department of Justice painted a picture of unlawfulness on the part of the company. The Justice Department released a statement earlier this week about the settlement of the lawsuit, which alleged that the company failed to properly rehire the reservist.

“It’s incredibly misleading,” Allen said. “We made the decision to settle because it was far cheaper than the cost of litigating. Had we fought the lawsuit, we believe we would have won.”

In fact, All Battery Sales and Service denies any liability in the matter as part of the settlement document signed by the company and approved Wednesday by federal District Court.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Diaz said that it was the company and its lawyers that made the decision to settle.

“They are entitled to feel how ever they want to feel,” Diaz said. “But the fact is they settled for monetary damages and agreed to a required training for company officials on the rights of military service members.” Under the terms of the settlement, the company must pay Curtis Kirk, the reservist, $37,500 to compensate him for lost or reduced wages and benefits, Justice Department officials said.

Kirk could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleged that All Battery unlawfully demoted and then terminated Kirk’s employment without proper cause. It’s a position the Justice Department stands by, Diaz said.

Kirk worked for All Battery for about two months at the company’s front counter before he was deployed, Allen said.

When Kirk returned from his overseas service, the company assigned him, at his previous wage, to make deliveries of battery products in a company van, Allen said. He was in line to receive commissions, too, but he did not do well in the job and was moved to a warehouse position, still at the same rate of pay, Allen said. Thirteen months after he was rehired, and after several warnings about his job performance from his supervisor, Kirk was fired, Allen said.

“His supervisor is an Army combat veteran who was wounded in Bosnia,” Allen said. “We have employees who have been with us more than 30 years. We are a 34-year-old, family-owned company and we try to be good citizens and a good employer. We have voluntarily jumped the car batteries of Navy sailors returning to Everett from long deployments.”

The lawsuit alleged the battery company violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which requires that a person with a long absence for military service who is reemployed cannot be fired within one year after returning to the job, except for just cause.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Most Read