Even while acknowledging the unusual circumstances of the case, it is disappointing that Pike County would rather face a lawsuit than figure out a way to find a job for a veteran.
Raven Ashley was a fiscal officer for the sheriff’s department when the Air National Guard deployed her to the Middle East last summer. Upon returning, she applied at the sheriff’s department for a similar job, believing state and federal laws protected the employment of military personnel. She declined offers to work as a patrol officer or corrections officer, saying they were not comparable to the work she was doing before going overseas.
The unusual circumstance in the case is a change of leadership at the sheriff’s department. State law protects the jobs of servicemen, but it also allows elected officials to choose their employees, and generally does not require them to keep workers from a prior administration.
Last week the board of supervisors decided in a 2-3 vote not to offer Ashley a job. The board’s attorney cited another state law that says a returning veteran also must prove that there was a reasonable expectation that the employment would be continuous and indefinite. The county apparently will base its case on the argument that no one working for an elected official should have an expectation of continuous work.
Ashley has contacted the federal Department of Labor, and it seems like her case is destined for court. Unless the legal system is able to provide a quick resolution, it’s possible that the county’s legal fees will be much higher than the cost of rehiring her. Perhaps the county has some sort of insurance to cover its costs.
The more troubling point is that Ashley left her job for the service of her country, but that appears unappreciated. Veterans and reservists do not deserve such treatment.
Jobs are certainly in short supply today. But since supervisors decided not to rehire her, they ought to offer her the first clerical or financial job that becomes available.