Office of Public Affairs | Justice Department Secures Settlement with Ohio Manufacturing Company to Resolve Alleged Discrimination Against National Guardsman

The Justice Department announced today that it has resolved its lawsuit against U.S. Development Corporation, doing business as Akro-Plastics, on behalf of Ohio National Guardsman Staff Sergeant Nicholas Whitman. The department alleged that Akro-Plastics violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) when it failed to promote Sergeant Whitman to a human resources position based on his military service obligation and constructively discharged him on his return from military service.

“Federal law safeguards the civilian employment rights of our nation’s servicemembers and ensures that their career opportunities aren’t harmed because of their military duties,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Employers must ensure that servicemembers receive all career advancements that they deserve.”

“American servicemembers make great sacrifices to protect our citizens and the freedoms, liberties and civil rights that we all enjoy,” said U.S. Attorney Rebecca C. Lutzko for the Northern District of Ohio. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio is committed to protecting all its citizens from discrimination, including servicemembers who employers discriminate against by denying them deserved workplace opportunities because of their past, present or future military service.”

According to the complaint, Sergeant Whitman started working at Akro-Plastics in June 2022. He applied for a human resources job in September 2022 and went through three interviews. Supervisors and officials knew about his upcoming three-month military deployment and repeatedly cited it as the reason for not promoting him. From December 2022 to April 2023, Sergeant Whitman fulfilled his military duties with the National Guard. Following his deployment, he returned to work for a short while before being forced to leave due to hostility from Akro-Plastic’s management. Under the settlement agreement, Akro-Plastics will pay Sergeant Whitman monetary damages. The company will also revise its polices, practices and trainings to prevent violations of USERRA.

The Department of Labor (DOL) referred this matter to the Justice Department following an investigation by its Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

The Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section continues to work collaboratively with the DOL to protect the jobs and benefits of military members. The Justice Department gives high priority to the enforcement of servicemembers’ rights under USERRA. Additional information about USERRA can be found at and, as well as on the DOL’s website at

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