Returning active duty employees entitled to similar jobs

State companies recognized for going above and beyond

published in The Oklahoman | May 30, 2010

McAfee & Taft shareholder and labor and employment attorney Nathan Whatley was interviewed for an Oklahoman article highlighting three Oklahoma employers selected as semifinalists for this year’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Enviro Systems Inc., Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center and Baker-Hughes Centrilift are among 130 companies nationwide being recognized by the Department of Defense for their support of their military employees above and beyond what is required of them by law.

According to the article, the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act mandates that permanent employees returning from active duty are entitled to return to similar positions. They are also entitled to higher pay or additional benefits they would have received during continuous employment.

Whatley told The Oklahoman that there are exceptions to the law, including “a company’s reductions in force that would have included employees on military leave, and employers who would have to create a useless job to reemploy reservists.”

“However, an employee’s position is not unavailable simply because it is occupied by another employee,” Whatley said.

The honored Oklahoma companies were recognized for their generous support of their employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve. One company sent care packages and frequent emails and texts. Another company continued full benefits for its active duty employees and provided the difference between military and civilian salary.