Chippewa man comes home from Iraq to find his job's been filled - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Chippewa man comes home from Iraq to find his job's been filled


Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - A soldier from Chippewa Falls is hoping the federal government can resolve a very unusual situation. Once he returned home from Iraq last year, he found his old job had been filled.

Mike Hanke is a sergeant with the Wisconsin Army National Guard who worked at UW-Stout before being deployed to Iraq. He worked as an ROTC contractor through the Department of Defense at Stout.  But when he returned from Iraq a year ago, he found that job had been filled by someone else. 

"My jaw about hit the floor when they said they replaced me.  I was in awe. I'm like, what do you mean you replaced me?" says Hanke.

Federal law requires employers in most circumstances to re-employ returning service members. Hanke says this problem would have been quickly resolved if he worked in the private sector.

"If this was the private sector I'm pretty sure the government would have been on them within one to two weeks and it wouldn't have gone this far.  They say it's a National Guard issue.  This has nothing to do with the National Guard.  This has to do with the Department of Defense and civilian employees for the Department of the Army," says Hanke.

Last year, he filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, which ruled in his favor that he should be reinstated and receive back pay. But none of that has happened.

"Their decision was that I was to be reinstated and paid back wages since April 6, 2010.  I'm still sitting in my living room.  So they pretty much have taken the decision, set it aside, and done nothing with it," says Hanke.

We contacted the Department of Defense Monday, which would not go on the record with us about Mike's case and how it was being handled.

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