DeLee v. City of Plymouth, No. 14-1970 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Pursuant to a long-standing local ordinance, the City of Plymouth, Indiana pays its police officers “longevity pay” after each work anniversary, calculated by multiplying $225 by the number of years that the officer has been on the force. Faced with financial difficulties in 1989, Plymouth enacted a second longevity pay ordinance, which prorates longevity pay for officers who take a leave of absence during any given year, including for military service. During officer DeLee’s twelfth year on the job, he missed nearly eight months of work while serving in the Air Force Reserves. When he returned, Plymouth paid him one-third of his full longevity payment for that year. DeLee sued, arguing that longevity pay is a seniority-based benefit to which the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, 38 U.S.C. 4301–4335, entitles him in full. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Plymouth. The Seventh Circuit reversed, reasoning that Plymouth’s longevity benefit is more appropriately characterized as a reward for lengthy service, rather than as compensation for work performed the preceding year, USERRA guarantees DeLee a full longevity payment for his twelfth year of employment.