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Naval Reservist Wins Discrimination Appeal Against DEA

A man stands outside the main door outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appe...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A man stands outside the main door outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals building Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017.

A retired Drug Enforcement Agency agent said the agency discriminated against him because he was a reserve officer in the Navy.

Kevin Sharpe started with the DEA in 1995. He also deployed three times as a Naval Reserve officer. Four years ago Sharpe was one of several agents in the San Diego field office who filed suit against the DEA.

Sharpe's case is one of dozens brought by federal workers, including civilians in the Department of Defense, for violating the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) .

Sharpe’s suit is not over. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. forwarded Sharpe’s case back to an administrative law judge within the DEA for final action.

“Some people were supportive but other people, one guy made commend that you may be a commander in the Navy but you’re not here,” Sharpe said. “And I don’t know where that came from. I learned to hide my military service, not talk about it.”

Despite high test scores, Sharpe said he was passed over for promotion several times. Federal law says employers cannot discriminate against someone serving in the guard or reserves.

“It was in the first six months that I started to notice that things weren’t quite right,” he said. “I would say my supervisor was smart enough. He didn’t quite approach me. However, on two separate times, he had senior agents come up to me and say the supervisor doesn’t like you being in the reserves.”

Sharpe retired from the Naval Reserve in 2008. He has also retired from the DEA since the case began.

A retired DEA agent says the agency discriminated against him, because he was a reserve officer in the Navy.

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