CHICAGO-- Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn welcomed home an Army Reserve unit returning from Iraq, including Army Reserve 1st Sgt. Anthony Marcukaitis, who was fired by his employer while on active duty there. Quinn will remind Illinois employers they may not fire National Guard members or reservists under federal law.
1st Sgt. Marcukaitis, is the 56-year old Vietnam vet who made headlines when he was notified by his employer on November 11 – Veterans’ Day – that he had been terminated since his active duty service had extended beyond nine months.
The Bloomington, Illinois, company has since rescinded the policy and reinstated 1st Sgt. Marcukaitis to his previous job as an insurance adjuster with full benefits.
“As the war continues and call-ups of Illinois citizen soldiers increase, we need to remind Illinois employers that federal law requires them to reinstate an employee who has taken time off to serve,” Quinn said. He added he was glad 1st Sgt. Marcukaitis’ employer changed its policy, but said it highlighted the need for employers to be aware of federal protections of service members in the civilian workforce.
“Illinois employers, supervisors and floor bosses are hereby put on notice,” Quinn said. “Discrimination against citizen soldiers will not be tolerated in the Land of Lincoln.”
Quinn urged any National Guard member or reservist and their families who face job discrimination or possible job loss to visit his website (www.OperationHomeFront.org) or call toll-free at 1-866-417-8889.
Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (or “USERRA”), an employee in the military, National Guard or reserves must be reinstated in his or her job upon return from service if the employee 1) gave proper notice, 2) spent no more than five years on leave and 3) was released from military service under honorable conditions.
“This law is an example of how government can protect everyday people,” Quinn said. “It tells our citizen soldiers they won’t have to worry about fighting for their job back home while they’re fighting for our security in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Quinn said.