U.S. Government agency ordered to rehire National Guard soldier wrongly fired for military service

Black Hawk about to takeoff on a training mission.

Black Hawk about to takeoff on a training mission.

Washington — The United States Postal Service was once again ordered to rehire a National Guard solider fired because of his military service according to Stars and Stripes. The governmental agency wrongfully terminated the soldier after taking military leave. The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, which is tasked with reviewing personnel action disputes in the federal government, ruled Dec. 30 that the U.S. Postal Service must not only rehire the National Guardsman but must pay him back pay plus interest and legal fees.

Sgt. Maj. Richard Erickson was wrongfully terminated in 2000 when he was placed on military orders for a Special Forces operation. In 2012, the board ruled that Erickson must be reinstated even in the event of an appeal. However, the Postal Service ignored that ruling and appealed without reinstating the soldier. In the latest case, the postal service argued that Erickson’s entitlement to back pay and benefits was negated by his failure to meet the deadline for requesting a rehire. However, the board found the argument invalid as the postal worker was wrongly terminated.

The Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protects soldiers from loosing their job for military obligation. The burden of proof falls on the soldier to prove a violation under the federal law, which is often difficult. Many soldiers lose their jobs and are even denied jobs because of their reserve status.

In this case, the federal government turned their back on a combat veteran and to date no one has been held accountable.

“It’s a shame,” Erickson said. “You go over there and fight the enemy, then you come back here and have to fight your employer for your job.”

Erickson is now active duty with the Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg.

If you have further questions or would like to voice your opinion (in a collected manner please), you can email Darlene Casey, Sr. Public Relations Representative with the U.S. Postal Service at darlene.casey@usps.gov. The U.S. House and Senate switchboard number is 202.224.312; however, you will likely be directed to your local district office.