Sometimes Georgia Legal Services Program lawyers are asked to help a client get much-needed government benefits when they are wrongfully denied. Often these benefits mean the difference between a client being able to afford food and housing for her family or becoming homeless. And often the denial is a violation of the client’s rights.
Ms. Clement worked for a pharmaceutical lab in Paulding County for six years during which time she was also a reservist in the Air National Guard. Several times she had asked for and was given leave to attend training for her National Guard duties. During the summer of 2011, she received orders to appear for a training in August, but when she submitted a request for leave, her employer denied it. She felt forced to quit her job to keep from being judged AWOL from the Guard and facing jail time. When she returned from her military service, she applied for unemployment benefits but was denied. Her employer had reported that she quit for “personal reasons.”
Ms. Clement came to GLSP for help. Attorney Cole Thaler took her case and found federal regulations requiring employers to grant leave for military service and prohibiting any discrimination against service members because of their obligation to do their military duty. He represented Ms. Clement at her appeal hearing and argued that her employer had wrongfully forced her to choose between her job and her duty to the National Guard. Her employer did not show up to the hearing. Ms. Clement got more than $3,000 in back benefits and $277 a week until she could find another job.
The client’s name has been changed to protect her confidentiality.