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PARK CITY — A Utah-based business faces a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly firing and then denying re-employment to one of its executives because he took a leave of absence for military service.
Veterans Trading Co., based in Park City, allegedly fired company President Paul Costello in July 2013 "due to his military service," according to a prepared statement Tuesday from the DOJ.
The DOJ alleges Veterans Trading also denied Costello's application to rejoin the company in September 2013 after he concluded active military duty.
"Costello’s military service was a motivating factor in (the company's) decisions to deny his request for re-employment and, ultimately, to terminate his employment," the department said in its statement.
Denying employment to military members because of their armed service responsibilities is outlawed by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Costello’s military service was a motivating factor in (the company's) decisions to deny his request for re-employment and, ultimately, to terminate his employment.
–Department of Justice
The government is pursuing damages equaling Costello's lost wages and forfeited ownership and distribution shares in the company since June 2013, as well as compensation for legal fees.
Veterans Trading Co. filed a lawsuit against Costello in April, alleging he was compensated improperly in his role as president of the company while on military leave. Federal lawyers are seeking a dismissal of that lawsuit and claim Costello took "personal leave" during his military service to conduct company meetings.
Veterans Trading specializes in "supply chain management and industrial distribution" and works closely with major aerospace contractors, according to the company's website. It was founded in 2005.
Costello is a Naval Reserve captain with previous experience as an F-18 fighter pilot. The veteran suffers from a disability, the DOJ says. He initially filed a complaint against Veterans Trading Co. with the U.S. Department of Labor, but the case was not resolved and later referred to the DOJ.