When a member of the Guard or Reserves is called to serve, there are a number of laws in place that require their employer to secure a position with the same responsibilities and pay as when they left for when they return. Despite these laws, some companies refuse to rehire veterans, or do so for a position with lower pay. NPR recently followed a handful of such cases, and discovered the law is successfully standing up for veteran reemployment rights.
In one case from Everett, Washington, an Army Reservist was demoted then fired after his deployment to Iraq. His employer, a battery retailer, was sued and then fined $37,500 in back pay. In an unrelated incident, a deputy of the Jerome County Sheriff’s Department was awarded $150,000 as part of a settlement. He claimed that the sheriff’s department did not accommodate him for the time he needed to heal from a knee injury suffered in Iraq.
Some cases are due to unfamiliarity with the law on part of the employers, but the real reason for the increase in such cases is the influx of veterans returning from deployment in the Middle East. Lt. Colonel Matt Cooper of the Washington National Guard says that often employers will settle out of court. “They try to solve problems as informally as possible,” says Cooper.