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Post date: July 4 2005

Attorney General's Office Offers Assistance To Reservists

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an effort by his office to help reservists who have been called away from their civilian jobs for military duty. As part of the effort, the Attorney General’s office has set up a hotline to assist individuals and employers with questions regarding military leave, re-employment, compensation and benefits.

"Reservists called to active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan are putting their lives on the line to protect our nation’s interests," Spitzer said. "We must do all we can to ensure that these citizen soldiers receive the benefits to which they are entitled under state law."

Spitzer noted that state military law is complex and that many employers may not know about the various requirements of law. For example, state law provides that members of the armed forces returning from military duty are, under most circumstances, entitled to return to their former civilian jobs. Further, it is unlawful for any employer to retaliate against or discriminate against any person because of his or her membership in the armed forces.

State law also requires public employers, including municipalities and counties, to pay employees who are on military duty their salaries for up to 30 days in a calendar year depending on the employee’s work schedule.

Spitzer said his office is ready to help resolve complaints from returning soldiers regarding these and other matters. In this regard, he cited a recent case in Washington County in which a county corrections officer failed to receive the required pay when he was deployed to Iraq in 2003.

Corrections Officer Brian Gillis appealed to Spitzer’s office for help in a dispute over back pay. Gillis, 44, from Greenwich, was on active duty for 15 months ending in December 2004. His service included 11 months in Iraq at a base 35 miles north of Baghdad where he was a vehicle maintenance specialist with the 2nd Battalion of the 108th Infantry of the New York National Guard.

"When I got back home from Iraq, I was upset when they told me I wouldn’t receive the pay and benefits I thought I was owed," Gillis said. "But the Attorney General’s office helped resolve the situation."

After consulting with officials in Washington County, the matter was resolved and Officer Gillis received the more than $4,500 in military leave pay. County officials have also agreed to recompute the paid military leave owed to other county employees.

Charlie Johnson, President of the New York State Council of Veterans Organizations said: "We owe it to these men and women who are bravely serving our country to do everything we can to help them transition back into their civilian lives when their tour of duty is over. I salute Attorney General Spitzer for this effort on behalf of our men and women in uniform."

Robert Becker, National Legislative Chairman of the Marine Corps League said: "Depriving our men and women in uniform of their workplace rights is a slap in the face considering the sacrifices they have made for our country. We support Attorney General Spitzer in his effort to reach out to veterans and their employers to nip these problems in the bud."

Gary Flaherty, Legislative Coordinator of the New York State Non-Commissioned Officers Association said: "We salute Attorney General Spitzer for this effort on behalf of our men and women in uniform. One day they are in the desert fighting and the next they are back home trying to get back to their job. Offering this hot-line to help resolve job-related problems is a superb idea."

Attorney General Spitzer praised Washington County officials for their prompt and cooperative response when the matter was brought to their attention.

Spitzer also thanked Assembly Member Roy McDonald, who referred the case of Corrections Officer Gillis to the Attorney General’s office.

Individuals and employers with problems or questions relating to military law can call the hotline at 1-800-996-4630.

The effort to assist reservists is being coordinated by Assistant Attorney General Devin Rice of the Attorney General’s Labor Bureau.

 

FACT SHEET ON VETERANS EMPLOYMENT ISSUES


Veterans Re-employment

Private Industry

Any person who leaves a position in private industry, other than a temporary position, may be restored to the same position or to a position of like seniority, status, and pay, unless the employer’s circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so.

The employee must:
receive a duly executed certificate of completion of military service;
remain qualified to perform the duties of the position;
and make an application for re-employment within 90 days after being relieved from military service.

An application for re-employment must be made within 10 days for persons returning from assemblies for drill or other equivalent training, reserve duty training, instruction or duties, or annual full-time training duty, active duty for training or other annual training, or in order to attend service schools conducted by the armed forces of the United States.

An application for re-employment must be made within 60 days after completion of initial full-time training duty or initial active duty for training.


Public Sector

Public employees serving in the armed forces are deemed to be on leave of absence during the periods of military service, and upon their return from such duty shall not be subjected to any loss or diminution of time of service, increment, vacation or holiday privileges, or any other right or privilege because of their military service. Furthermore, upon returning from military duty to public employment, public employees may not be prejudiced because of such military duty with respect to continuance in office or employment, reappointment to office, re-employment, reinstatement, transfer or promotion.


Military Leave Pay

All public employers, including municipal, county and state government agencies, must provide a maximum of between 22 to 30 days paid military leave to employees performing military service in each calendar year, depending upon the actual number of days that such public employee is engaged in military service during the calendar year, and depending upon such public employee’s work schedule during his or her first month of military service for the year. The State Comptroller and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs have interpreted this provision of state law to mean that public employees must receive a minimum of 22 days of paid military leave per year and a maximum of 30 based on the number of scheduled work days during the first 30 days of ordered military duty in the year in question. Thus, if an employee is scheduled to work for more than 22 days, but less than 30 days during the first 30 days of ordered military duty, the employee will be eligible for the number of days of paid military leave that correspond to the number of scheduled working days. If an employee is scheduled for less than 22 days of work during the first 30 days of ordered military duty in the year, then the employee will be eligible for a maximum of 22 days of paid military leave for the year.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


1. If I left a position in the public sector, in order to perform military service, can I return to that position when I complete my military service?

Yes. You can return to your previous position if you receive a duly executed certificate of completion of military service, you are still qualified to perform the duties of the position, and you make an application for re-employment within 90 days after the completion of your military service.

2. Does my private sector employer have to re-employ me in the same position that I had prior to leaving in order to perform military service?

No. The employer does not have to restore you to the same position, but if the employer does not restore you to the same position, then you must be re-employed in a position of like seniority, status, and pay.

3. Are there any circumstances under which my private sector employer can refuse to re-employ me?

Yes. Your employer can refuse to re-employ you if the employer’s circumstances have changed so as to make it impossible or unreasonable to restore you to your previous position or to a position of like seniority, status, and pay.

4. Can I be discriminated against or retaliated against at work because of my membership in the armed services or because of my military obligations?

No. It is unlawful for an employee to discriminate or retaliate against an employee because of his or her membership in the armed forces or military obligations.