United States District Court, C.D. California
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
PATRICK J. WALSH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an employment action by a now-former La Habra Police Officer
who claims that the City of La Habra violated the Uniformed
Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, 38 U.S.C.
§ 4301 et seq., by not awarding him annual merit-based
pay increases during the 17 months that he was deployed in
Afghanistan. The City argues that Plaintiff was not entitled
to these step increases because they are merit based and
Plaintiff did not and could not have earned them while he was
deployed. For the following reasons, the Court concludes that
it is reasonably certain that Plaintiff would have earned
these merit based step increases had he not been deployed and
awards him back pay of $22, 457.09 and appropriate equitable
1998, after graduating from high school, Plaintiff joined the
Army and later became a member of the Army Reserves.
August 2006, after completing the police academy, Plaintiff
was hired as a probationary police officer by the City of La
Habra. The La Habra Police Department requires probationary
officers to complete a one-year probationary period. The
one-year probationary term can be extended if the Department
believes that an officer's performance is deficient.
Probationary officers are hired at salary Step A. The
Department evaluates them six months after they are hired to
determine if they are entitled to a merit pay step
increase-to Step "B"-based on their performance in
the first six months. If so, they receive a raise. If not,
they can be terminated or can be granted additional time to
improve their performance. The La Habra Police Department
evaluates probationary officers again six months later, at
their one-year anniversary, to determine if they have
satisfactorily completed probation. If so, a probationary
officer becomes a permanent police officer.
officer's performance evaluation is conducted by his or
her supervisor. The supervisor is called upon to rate the
officer in categories and provide an overall rating. The
Department uses five classifications to rate officers:
Outstanding, Exceeds Standards, Meets Standards, Improvement
Needed, and Unacceptable.
Plaintiffs performance was formally evaluated after six
months on the job and he received an overall rating of
"needs improvement." Although Plaintiff was
eligible for a merit-based step increase at that time, he did
not receive one because he was not performing up to
Plaintiff was evaluated again at nine months and again
received an overall rating of "needs improvement."
As a result, he was again denied a step increase and the
Department extended his probationary period for an additional
six months because of continuing concerns about his job
performance. Plaintiff was put on an individual performance
improvement plan, which included a return to field training.
the fifteen-month mark, in November 2007, Plaintiff was
evaluated by his supervisor and given an overall rating of
"meets standards." The supervisor, Sergeant Baylos,
noted that Plaintiff had improved greatly and had a bright
future with the Department. As a result of this evaluation,
Plaintiff became a permanent officer and received a salary
step increase from Step A to Step B.
an officer completes the probationary period, he is evaluated
by his supervisor each year to determine, among other things,
whether he is entitled to a merit-based step increase. If an
officer meets or exceeds standards during the rating period,
he is entitled to a step increase. In practice, merit-based
step increases are awarded about 98% of the time. Of the ...