Attorneys discuss veteran discrimination issues

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What Reservists and National Guardsmen returning from military service don't know can hurt their civilian careers.

This morning, Augusta attorneys, A. Montague Miller and John B. Long, discussed veterans' discrimination issues at a legal forum sponsored by the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.

Petty Officer 1st Class Capri Cruz plans to retire from the Navy in October and wondered how much information she's required to give on her military service.

"I'm a little paranoid about what future employers will want to know," she said. "I want to ask what's legal for them to ask."

Records such as her military separation papers might be required to verify her military employment, but Long told her to give employers a copy of the short form not the one with all of her personal data.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 ensures that those who've served in the military are not discriminated against by employers because of their military service. In addition, the Georgia legal code provides for those serving in the Georgia National Guard; they are further covered should they be called up by the Governor in support of a national disaster and lose time from their civilian jobs.

Employees returning after a deployment with the military are entitled to any benefit they would have accrued during that time of separation such as back pay, front  pay, 401K or vacation pay, said Miller.

Employers cannot require employees to sign resignation notices before they are called to duty nor can they be required to use their vacation time for military service.

In some situations, the returning employee cannot be rehired; as in the case that it creates an undo hardship on the employer.

"If a company had 25 employees, and now they have only three, this could cause a hardship if the veteran re-applied," said Miller.

Miller gave several instances of court cases which were ruled in favor of the veteran, but he said there aren't as many cases as people might think. He said he believes the reason is few people know their rights.

A main focus of the event was USERRA, which does not apply to career service members, but that didn't stop retirees and soon to be military retirees from attending and asking questions.

Laurie Ott, who is the executive director of the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project, said the forum was the first in what will likely be a series of events aimed at getting the word out to veterans on their rights.

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corgimom
32123
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corgimom 06/14/10 - 05:31 pm
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What causes the problems is

What causes the problems is when they come back from AD and don't report back to the employer- and the report back time is very strict. If they aren't disabled or ill, and they allow more than 3 work days before reporting back to the employer, they are eligible for termination for unexcused absence.

Or they say "Hey, I'd like a couple of weeks off, I'll be back on the 1st", the employer agrees, and then show up a month or two later, without having called or anything- and they've already been terminated.

The sad part is most employers would work with them, if given a chance.

Been there.

justus4
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justus4 06/14/10 - 06:58 pm
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The attorney's interested in
Unpublished

The attorney's interested in this issue should be commented, but the discrimination in hiring vets is difficult to prove - if not impossible. Only in government employment do the law mandates 5 or 10 points for veterans when taking entry level tests. Otherwise, the decision to not hire for private companies will boil down to the company's prerogative, which will be upheld and not determined to be discrimination. It is good that someone is trying to aid our vets in getting jobs and this kinda legal forum can only help them be more prepared.

corgimom
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corgimom 06/14/10 - 07:48 pm
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Once again, I read one

Once again, I read one article, Justus reads something totally different.

No private employer is ever required to give hiring preferences to vets. They are too busy worrying about U know who and U know what to worry about vets- who are not a protected class and who are not covered under Affirmative Action.

Dixieman
14900
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Dixieman 06/14/10 - 08:33 pm
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Don't get me started - I had

Don't get me started - I had SO MUCH FUN trying to get a job when I got back from Vietnam. The environment today is at least much more welcoming to and understand of veterans. (P.S. I got over it and kept plugging away as I learned to do in the Army and finally got a good job, so this is not a whine).

Dixieman
14900
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Dixieman 06/14/10 - 08:34 pm
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Don't get me started - I had

Don't get me started - I had SO MUCH FUN trying to get a job when I got back from Vietnam. The environment today is at least much more welcoming to and understand of veterans. (P.S. I got over it and kept plugging away as I learned to do in the Army and finally got a good job, so this is not a whine).
Good for the two attorneys who volunteered their time and did this public service!

Sargebaby
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Sargebaby 06/14/10 - 08:35 pm
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Not every case is a "been

Not every case is a "been there," Corgi. The article plainly states that returning deployed Veterans have certain re-employment rights. This is not a program for retirees, but it is a program for reservists and National Guard. Thankfully, the Fed has repaired the holes in re-employment for our returning Military. It's a dang sight better now, than when I had "been there!"

flippinbricks
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flippinbricks 06/15/10 - 01:06 am
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Corqimom I am afraid you are

Corqimom I am afraid you are misinformed as to the time a returning servicemember has to report back to work. Now bear in mind when discussing these matters we are only referring to soldiers who are members of the Reserves and National Guard which USERRA protects. The facts are as follows for times to return to work after release from service if mobilized:

Less than 31 days of service; the next following work week
More than 30 days but less than 180 days of service; 14 days to report
More than 180 days of service; 90 days to report

USERRA is a welcomed tool for members of the military and you would be surprised at just how many employeers are ignorant to its laws. I am a reservist currently in Iraq. In 2001 when units began to mobilize I had to educate my employeer on the rights afforded to me and they were receptive. My brother-in-law however was not so fortunate. He is a reservist as well and is currently in a law-suit with BMW Manufacturing Company over his job.

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