President Bush to Bring Troops Home, Prepare

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<p><strong>Columbus, Ohio &mdash; Sept. 27</strong><br />In his address to the nation Sept. 13, President Bush announced plans to significantly reduce troop levels in Iraq. </p><p>With 30,000 troops expected to return to the United States by the middle of next year, employers need to be prepared and understand the details of the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).<br /><br />USERRA provides re-employment protection and other benefits for veterans and other employees who perform military service. USERRA applies to all employers, regardless of size and all service members, including those who volunteered to serve. <br /><br />According to Allen S. Kinzer, attorney and employment law expert at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, under the law:<br /><br />Companies must reinstate employees to the position, pay and benefit level that they would have had if they had not left for active duty.<br /><br />Returning service men and women cannot be fired, except for just cause, for one year following their reinstatement.<br /><br />USERRA protects the employment of military personnel for five years of cumulative military leave, but an exception to this timeline exists during a “time of war or national emergency.” <br /><br />Bush has twice declared the United States to be in a state of national emergency, once on Sept. 23, 2001, and again on May 22, 2003, which provide more than the five-year protection to service members who have been serving since troops were sent to Afghanistan in late 2001.<br /><br />Recent military action has caused an increase in litigation over employers&rsquo; compliance with USERRA. <br /><br />According to the U.S. Department of Labor, which handles USERRA complaints, almost 7,000 complaints were filed during fiscal year 2006. <br /><br />To avoid litigation over the law, employers need to thoroughly understand its requirements and adhere to it. </p>

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