Fading support for the war may lead to more USERRA claims

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Waning support for the Iraq war may be making some employers less enthusiastic about following the law guaranteeing reemployment to soldiers returning from military service.

In 2006, 113 Georgia reservists sought mediation through the Georgia Guard’s employment support agency, and 27 filed complaints with the Georgia Department of Labor.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA, guarantees the right of deployed soldiers to return to the same or similar jobs following their service. USERRA also protects employees from termination based on events occurring while they are deployed.

One soldier from the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade got the boot from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals after returning from Iraq last May. He was terminated in a 20 percent work force reduction based in part on sales records from the prior three years—19 months of which he had spent overseas.

No lawsuits yet. But recall that wherever there’s a class, there’s a potential class action.

Tip: USERRA doesn’t play politics. In addition to the right to return to the same or an equivalent position, the law grants returning reservists specific protection of their health and pension benefits. Beyond USERRA regulations, courts have viewed returning reservists very favorably. No matter how unpopular the war, returning reservists have the law on their side.

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