Retired military treated badly by employer


Good Morning Jim, I am a retired Army Infantry Lieutenant Colonel with 27 years of service (10 years active, 17 years reserve) and two tours in Iraq (I believe I am in protected veteran category)…I can provide DD214 upon request. I am writing to ascertain if I have legal standing in the following situation. It would be my desire to avoid legal action, but thus far I have been unable to work things out with my employer…a large food company. There is much more detail than the general outline of the situation I provide below, but I believe the major points have been captured:
1. I was hired by a large food company in 2014 as Director of Procurement…through the leadership provided to my team we delivered millions of dollars in savings to my employer and altered the P&L in a very positive manner
2. Approximately two years ago the VP of Supply Chain position came open, the CEO did not open the position to competitive, experienced candidates such as myself, instead unilaterally giving the job to another VP who had no experience in supply chain at all
3. Approximately one year later the VP of Supply Chain left and the position came open again.
4. Myself and two other candidates interviewed for the job…I was awarded the position (as Senior Director of Supply Chain)…however…the pay level, authority and position were at far lower rates than the previous VP holding the position and I was asked to continue to do my current job Director of Procurement and at the same time lead the Supply Chain
5. The time resource challenges of fulling time responsibilities as Procurement Director and leading the Supply Chain of one of the fastest growing food companies in America is challenging enough, the lack of authority to do the job due to the lower position level is even more difficult.
6. The head of supply chain in food companies normally reports to the CEO (though there is not hard and fast rule to this)…I report to the VP of Operations who has actively undermined my leadership in my current role. I do not consider this issue to be the root cause of the problem…but a symptom of the unfairness described above which resulted in me being provided a position with much lower authority, pay etc. than the previous person in the position.
7. I believe that employer provided lower position level and almost double the responsibility because they felt they could get away with it. I am an Army Infantry Ranger…driven to do an excellent job wherever I serve. I readily accept additional responsibility and take personal ownership of everything I attempt to do. I have a copy of a video from my employers National Sales Conference last summer, in the unflattering video…I am being mocked by another employee who is making fun of the high level of physical fitness and people empowerment orientation that are signatures of special operations soldier’s leadership attributes. I believe that the video is indicative of the lack of understanding and value that veterans like myself bring to America’s private enterprises.
I have brought the issues I have described to both the CEO and VP of HR along with a lot more detail than provided here, so far no remedy has been provided. I have never filed a complaint like this before, but find myself in a difficult and unfair position as an employee of a large food company.
I would like to know if I have any legal standing in regard to this issue? Thank you very much for your consideration Jim.
High Regards,

Jim's Reply:

You have what is commonly referred to as an employee/employer dispute. It's my experience that once we open that can of worms, if we want to eventually reach a conclusion, we have to retain an attorney who specializes in such actions. Employment attorneys work on both sides of the fence so finding the right lawyer may not be easy.  For example, an attorney who has had any dealings whatever with your employer won't be able to help you. That could even extend to the lawyer having worked with businesses that may have worked with your employer and so can see how complex it gets. Employment law is complex as it is and when we throw in veterans status preferences, it can get even more complex. If I were you and if I thought it worth pursuing, I'd Google search for an employment attorney and then begin contacting them until you feel you've found the right one. I would not attempt to take on the employer alone and without expert representation. That hill doesn't seem worth dying on.

  • PS from StatesideLegal:  You can also  use the "Find Legal Help" tab to look for LRS providers in your state and request a low-cost consultation with a lawyer who represents employees in employment disputes.