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ARLINGTON, Va. — More than 200,000 federal workers who also served as military reservists between 1980 and 2000 are eligible for back pay for duty days improperly charged as leave, thanks to a recent decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board.

The March 2 ruling, Garcia vs. U.S. Department of State, is the latest in a string of court cases challenging a pre-2000 government policy that charged federal reservists annual leave for attending drill, training and other military obligations on weekends or other days not required by their civilian schedules.

In July 2005, the Merit Systems Protection Board ruled that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, a 1994 law that prevents discrimination based on military service, gave reservists the right to seek back pay for drill time charged as annual leave between 1994 and 2000.

The March 2 ruling says that a law preceding USERRA, the Veteran’s Reemployment Rights Act, gives federal reservists the right to seek “corrective measures for improper leave charging” back as far as 1980, according to Brian Tromans, a spokesman for Tully, Rinckey & Associates.

The New York-based law firm represented Marc Garcia, a special agent for the State Department’s Diplomatic Security branch, in the case.

The decision doubles the pool of government employees who may be eligible to collect back pay from 100,000 to at least 200,000 workers, Tromans told Stars and Stripes in a Monday telephone interview.

The Garcia decision also gives federal reservists more time to request or subpoena records from the Defense Financial Accounting Service or other federal agency proving an employer charged leave on nonwork days.

For information on filing a claim, go to www.fedattorney.com or contact a lawyer.

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