By Joline Gutierrez Krueger / Journal
Saturday, April 16th, 2016
“I don’t want other veterans to be as disheartened as I was to go to war, and then come back and find you have to fight again in your own homeland for your job.” Phillip Ramirez
Gov. Susana Martinez with Army veteran Phillip Ramirez during a Memorial Day 2014 event in Gallup. Ramirez says he wanted to take a photo with the governor so that, later, she could learn that he is the soldier her administration was battling in court over his workplace discrimination lawsuit. (Courtesy of Phillip Ramirez)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — He fought for the country, then fought for his state job and now, after eight long years, two gubernatorial administrations, two attorneys general and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, the battle is over – and he won.
But those who have stood with him in the fight say this isn’t just a victory for New Mexico veteran Phillip Ramirez, but for other veterans who feel discriminated against in their civilian jobs because of their military service.
“I’m so happy, not just for me, but for the veterans who won’t have to go through what I have,” said Ramirez, a former Army National Guard sergeant whose long slog through the courts has been covered here in this column since he filed his landmark lawsuit against the state Children, Youth and Families Department, his former employer, in 2008. “I don’t want other veterans to be as disheartened as I was to go to war, and then come back and find you have to fight again in your own homeland for your job.”
In 2011, a Gallup jury sided with Ramirez, awarding him $100,000 in a victory believed to be the first of its kind in New Mexico in which the state was found to have violated a soldier’s rights under USERRA. The law provides protection for members of the military against workplace discrimination or retaliation.
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