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Reservist Says He Got Shafted for Deploying

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CN) - Aurora Health Care fired a 27-year veteran of the Army Reserve who needed to miss 12 days of work for active duty, the lieutenant colonel claims in Wisconsin's Eastern District Court.

Michael Hert says that he worked for 10 years as a physician relations consultant for Aurora. During that decade, he was deployed three times to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2008, and Enduring Freedom from 2009 to 2010, according to the complaint.

A decorated veteran, Hert says he has received a combat action badge, a bronze star and a meritorious service medal.

Prior to the end of his third tour, he says he reapplied for employment with Aurora, anticipating that the Wisconsin healthcare giant would comply with federal law and hire him back.

Instead, Aurora placed Hert in "performance monitoring" as a new employee, according to the complaint.

Though the company let Hert keep his former title, it actually ranked him under a "far junior employee" and placed at a much lower status tier.

Hert says he notified his supervisor, Jennifer Walters, on Jan. 5, 2010, that he needed military leave for 12 days because he received new orders for active duty.

By Jan. 20, his other supervisors, Kathleen Rondeau and Gwen Baumel told him he was fired.

After failing to reinstate Hert to a position of seniority and unlawfully firing him, Aurora then blocked Hert from contributing to the company retirement plan.

Hert sued Aurora Health Care, Walters, Rondeau and Baumel for $1 million. He is represented by Thomas Jarrard of Spokane, Wa.

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