Last year, during their service in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively, Army Sergeants Anddy Moreno and Alvin Taylor were laid off by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). In order to help prevent future occurrences such as this, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I – Corning) has announced the passage of a bill that he co-sponsored, Assembly Bill A1428-B, which is a veterans protection bill that relates to prohibiting government agencies from cutting positions of employees absent on military duty.
The bill would prohibit the abolition of such positions unless all similar positions are first eliminated. In cases where a position is eliminated, upon his or her return from military duty, such public employee’s name shall be placed on a preferred list to expedite the employee’s return to work.
“While our brave servicemen and women are overseas fighting for our freedom, the last thing that they should have to worry about is the security of their job when they return home,” Palmesano said.
The legislation has been introduced in the State Senate by Senator Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, and after being reported from Committee, is currently on the Senate Calendar awaiting a vote.
Under the bill, which mandates compliance with the Federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, no public employer shall abolish a position occupied by a person absent on military duty, solely based upon the fact that the position or positions are currently filled by a person engaged in military duty. However, if all similar positions were eliminated, the veteran’s name would be placed on a preferred list for employment.
The bill also adds a new anti-discrimination clause to the civil service law, which prohibits against discrimination against public employees serving in the armed forces and states that no public employer shall deny employment, re-employment, or any benefit of employment to any person or employee based on the prospective, current or past enlistment, appointment or commission with the Armed Forces of the United States.
The service member also shall be afforded full enforcement rights under the laws of this state and of the United States, including the Federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act of 1994 (USERRA).
“Veterans of the United States Armed Forces put their lives on the line for us every day, and we must remember that, working to ease their transitions back into daily life once their duty is completed,” said Palmesano.