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Returning Vets Face New Fight

Star TribuneJune 01, 2006

Star Tribune

An Inver Grove Heights Reservist went to court after trying to get his job back at the Ford plant in St. Paul

When Army Reservist Mitch Minnaert came marching home to Inver Grove Heights after 15 months of active duty in 2003, all he wanted to do was to go back to work at the Ford plant in St. Paul.

That was easier said than done.

After several wanderings through the company's bureaucratic maze and two more mobilizations as an intelligence officer, he sued the company in federal court, a lawsuit that was settled earlier this year.

Ford wouldn't comment on this case but said it wouldn't violate the law. "I kept ending up between a rock and a hard place, because I could have stayed on active duty, but I needed the benefits Ford had," said Minnaert, a 22-year military veteran. "The way I was treated, problem after problem - I can't be the first person who's had this."

"Some employers aren't following the law, not out of malice, but to protect the bottom line," said Harry Sieben, Minnaert's attorney and brigadier general in the Minnesota National Guard. "After 36 years in the military, I've heard about hundreds of these cases and filed dozens of lawsuits."

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