Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wells Fargo Liable to Reservist for Job, Back Pay, Punitives

Michael Serrichio, a former Connecticut financial adviser and military reservist who alleged he was effectively dismissed from his job after being called to active duty following the Sept. 11 attacks, received about $1.3 million in what is believed to be the largest judgment under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, a federal law protecting employment rights of servicemen. U.S. District Judge Janet B. Arterton entered the judgment Thursday following a jury trial last June. Arterton held Wells Fargo & Co. liable, although Wachovia Securities was sued, since Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia on Dec. 31.

Judge Arterton ordered that Wells Fargo return Serricchio, 30, to a position comparable to the one he formerly held and ordered that he be paid $144,300 annually, in addition to commission income. He also received more than $400,000 in back pay and interest. The judge ruled that Wachovia had willfully violated Serricchio's rights, entitling him to an additional $390,000 in statutory punitive damages, and he is entitled to be reimbursed for legal fees and court costs, which his attorney said is probably more than $500,000. The Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act is a federal law dating from World War II, which was written to encourage military service and protect veterans from being penalized for their service. It requires, among other things, that employers pay those returning from military duty as if their employment had not been interrupted. Read more.

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