Senate passes National Guard employment anti-discrimination legislation

Mike Seals - April 14, 2021 10:36 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation passed off the Senate floor Wednesday to protect members of the Oklahoma National Guard from employment discrimination. Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee Chair Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, is the Senate principal author of House Bill 2545, creating the Oklahoma Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

The retired Navy veteran explained that the bill provides the same employment protections for Oklahoma National Guard members whether they are called to federal active duty by the president under Title 10 or the governor of Oklahoma under Title 32.

“Currently, Oklahoma National Guard members called up for federal active duty by the president are protected by federal law and know when they return, their jobs will be waiting for them,” Simpson said. “Unfortunately, if they are activated by the governor for a national emergency in the states, they don’t have that same employment protection. House Bill 2545 will mirror federal law giving our Oklahoma heroes assurance that their jobs and livelihoods will be waiting for when they return home.”

HB 2545 provides that any National Guard member who has to leave their job due to active duty must be reemployed when their service is complete as long as they provide advance notice to the employer and their absence is no longer than five years cumulatively. The service member must also submit a reemployment application upon their return.

The measure further prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or prospective employees based on their membership or service in the Oklahoma National Guard. Employers also cannot discriminate against such members who have enforced a protection, testified, assisted an investigation, or exercised a right in regard to the Oklahoma Act.

Rep. Ty Burns, R-Pawnee, is the principal House author of the bill, which will next be considered by the governor.

“The servicemen and women of the Oklahoma National Guard deserve to have their jobs protected when they are called up by the governor to assist during times of emergency in our state,” Burns said. “House Bill 2545 provides peace of mind for those guard members and helps show our appreciation for their willingness to serve.”

 

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