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WASHINGTON — Reservists and National Guardsmen dealing with job problems related to deployment can now file grievances online at a new Department of Labor Web site.

The complaints site, accessible through www.dol.gov/vets, is designed to provide active-duty reservists and guardsmen another outlet to learn about their employment rights and protect them. Grievance forms, both in print and online versions, are available directly at www.dol.gov/elaws/vets/userra/1010.asp.

Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, employers cannot discriminate against military personnel or veterans when hiring and are prohibited from firing employees who are deployed for military service.

The law also specifies deployed personnel’s right to keep their employer’s health care for up to two years and ensures that promotions cannot be withheld from an employee because of reserve-duty status.

Charles Ciccolella, assistant secretary of labor for veterans’ employment issues, said the online complaint forms are especially useful for troops stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan, because they can remotely deal with their job problems in a timely manner.

“Once a claim is completed and submitted, the claimant is notified by e-mail and sent the name, address and telephone number of their veterans’ state or regional director,” he said. “And upon receipt of the complaint an investigative team is notified, either the same working day or the next day.”

Officials expect the site will also be a valuable tool for reservists and guardsmen in the United States who are dealing with similar problems returning to civilian work. The site also features a series of questions for visitors to determine if they are covered by the act.

Ciccolella said 44 people have filed complaints in the site’s first two weeks.


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