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Texas Employment Case: Deployed and Dismissed

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Lewisville, TXEmployment law in any state designed to protect the rights of workers is often augmented by federal statutes that sometimes addresses special situations. And beyond Texas Labor Law and other legal frameworks brought to the fore on behalf of Texas workers is the protected right for a member of the National Guard to expect his job to still be there when he comes home from serving his country.

For Lewisville resident Bruce Grove, that didn't happen.

KDAF TV in Dallas tells the story of a proud member of the Texas Army National Guard who did twin tours of duty in Iraq—and who was still deployed when his spouse back home in Lewisville received a hand-delivered note on September 11, 2008.

Grove was out of a job. The storage facility he managed had been sold. His original employer, The Assured Group, announced that Grove was being terminated.

Where this Texas Labor Law story gets confusing is when one considers the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act—known as USERRA. It's a federal statute (which applies to Texas and all other states) that provides service personnel with the right to their old jobs back once they return from active duty.

According to KDAF in Dallas, this didn't happen for Grove. He received a frantic call from his spouse while deployed in Iraq in September 2008, informing him of his employment fate. Upon returning from active duty in October 2009, Grove was reduced to looking for work.

But he also pursued his rights under USERRA and Texas employment law. The result is a dispute between Grove and his former employer.

The Assured Group told KDAF in a statement that it sought guidance from the Department of Labor's Veteran's office (DOLVO) and is of the view, based on communication from the Veteran's office, that Assured was not under any obligation to Grove.

A letter from DOLVO to Assured dated January 8 of last year states that assuming Grove's employment termination allegations are true, then Assured is in violation of the USERRA statute. However, a subsequent letter, dated two weeks later, suggested that DOLVO was closing its file on the Grove case but that Grove had the right to refer the case to the Attorney General.

A Texas labor and employment attorney with military experiences is of the view that Grove has a solid case under USERRA against his former employer. The report did not allude as to whether or not Grove had actually sued The Assured Group or if he had secured employment in the meantime. Even though the facility where Grove used to work was sold, attorneys speaking on behalf of Grove say that under USERRA Assured Group had an obligation to ensure Grove's job was maintained and available to him upon his return from active duty.

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