The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal employees, has hired a New York law firm to help 10,000 members who are military reservists collect compensation for personal leave days that Uncle Sam illegally withheld.
The firm, Tully, Rinckey and Associates of Albany, N.Y., successfully represented several federal employees who were improperly docked vacation time for the reserve military duty they served on weekends, federal holidays and other days they weren’t scheduled to be at their federal jobs.
“The opportunity to connect with such a respected union and assist its thousands of members is one which we are proud to have,” Mathew Tully, founding partner of the firm, said in a statement. Tully is a frequent columnist for Federal Times.
In August, a federal court ruled Tully’s client Jose Hernandez, a retired civilian Air Force mechanic, was entitled to be reimbursed for leave improperly charged against him since 1980. Between 100,000 and 300,000 reservists currently or formerly employed by the federal government could be eligible for $1,500 to $3,000 in compensation as a result of this case.
A 2003 case had only allowed compensation dating back to 1994, the year the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act was enacted. USERRA prohibits employers from denying reservists and guardsmen benefits, such as personal vacation days, because of their military service.
Before that case, the government routinely charged reservists for military leave every day they were on training, even if they weren’t scheduled to work. This meant employees quickly burned through the 15 military leave days they get each year, forcing them to tap their vacation and sick time and take leave without pay.