Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Job Protection for Returning Heroes

I previously posted about the employment rights of service members.  I also want to point out that reservists are protected as well.  Reservist veterans returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan have a special set of rights granted to them by the federal government to insure that those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we all take for granted, are able to go back to work, and not be penalized for the time they spent deployed and away from their jobs. Returning veterans are guaranteed the same status and rights at their workplace as any non-military employee who has been on leave or furlough. These rights are protected for five years while deployed.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) safeguards the rights of service members in several ways. First, USERRA requires that returning reservists are placed into the position they would have attained if they had remained on the job during employment. This “escalator clause” as it is called guarantees “the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority.” If additional training is needed for the veteran to go into the escalator job, requires that reasonable efforts be made by the employer to help returning service member employees to “refresh or upgrade their skills to help them qualify for reemployment.” USERRA states that the employer of a returning reservist must provide an alternative job, if the service member cannot qualify for the escalator position.

USERRA provides for our wounded warriors. USERRA requires employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability. If a service member is still recovering from injuries received on active duty, they have up to two years to return to work or apply for reemployment.

If you are a returning reservist, thank you for your service. The sacrifices that you and your families made during your deployment deserve the highest respect from the rest of us. If you have had difficulty in returning to work upon your return, more information is available here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Little Unemployment Fraud Leads to Big Trouble

Last year, Morganton resident, Addie Thomas, was charged with 87 counts of unemployment fraud. Thomas reportedly continued to collect unemployment for two years while she was employed. According to Court documents, each time she filed for unemployment benefits she stated that she had no income. However, she allegedly earned an average of $300 a week working for a local doctor.  Under North Carolina General Statutes, reporting false information to the Employment Security Commission (ESC) is a Class 1 misdemeanor. An individual charged with the crime is punishable by up to forty five days imprisonment. Thomas, charged with 87 counts, could be facing up to 3915 days imprisonment. In addition, the ESC has the ability to collect all disbursements made during the fraudulent period. You can read the article here.

Unemployment benefits are paid to eligible employees who have lost their job without fault. Individuals seeking financial assistance must be actively seeking employment. Not all individuals who have lost their job have a right to receive unemployment benefits. The following link provides a list of "Ten Things You Should Know About the UI System When Filing Your Claim" and you can access it by clicking here.