Disclaimer: This article may contain the viewpoint and opinion of the author.
As veterans return home from overseas, companies should be ready to provide them with their jobs back. Employers should be holding their positions for them upon return or, at least, provide them with a similar job if the need is there.
The recent Supreme Court ruling in Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety does reference the idea of providing a veteran with his old job. In this case, the individual involved could not perform his original function so he requested another job in which he could perform.
LeRoy Torres was a State Trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety before he deployed to Iraq in 2007. He returned disabled and could no longer perform the functions of a State Trooper. He requested another position in which he could perform.
He was honorably discharged but had lung and breathing problems. The Department of Public Safety declined to offer him another job resulting in him suing the State of Texas.
According to CNN.com, Torres argued the states failure to offer him a job to accommodate his disability violated the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
The law purpose is to protect veterans from employment discrimination which falls under Congress’ power to raise and support Armies.
The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Torres. It appears the Texas Department of Public Safety will not have to act in good faith with Torres and provide some job for him to perform.
It is a unique case because it doesn’t have to do with Veterans Affairs, Disability laws, or Employment laws. The States argued they can’t be held responsible for damages incurred to an individual when that individual was deployed into wartime situations by the Federal Government.
LeRoy Torres was sent overseas by the Federal Government and suffered his debilitating lung and respiratory issues from the burn pits of Iraq while under the direct command of the United States Government and not the State of Texas.
Torres now advocates for those men and women in the military who have suffered as he has from the events in Iraq.
One can argue the State of Texas should have provided him with a position that he could perform since there was an agreement his position would be held for him. However, if he can no longer perform his original function, is the State responsible at that point?
CNN reported, that the Biden administration supported Torres in the case, arguing that the protections under the law “are especially important today to Guard and Reserve forces, who both serve the nation and work for employers” and that they incentivize participation.
Justice Thomas wrote the dissenting opinion arguing the States didn’t sign the Constitution consenting to private lawsuits by individuals who received the injuries under an action carried out by the Federal Government.
The majority opinion, penned by Justice Breyer, stated upon the state’s signing of the Constitution, they have agreed to give up their sovereignty when it comes to the Federal Government building and maintaining a national military for the defense of the nation.
The issue is called Sovereign Immunity and the Supreme Court has typically sided with the states in previous cases of this nature.
Regardless of what anyone’s opinion on this matter is. Veterans deserve to have every opportunity possible when they return home. If that means getting an old job back, they should. If that means giving them a new job, then do it. No matter the circumstances.