U.S. Attorney Dee Benson has pledged to do all he can to ensure reservists and National Guard troops can return to jobs they left behind during the Persian Gulf War.

Benson said employers and returning veterans should be aware that federal law protects re-employment rights of service men and women activated during time of war or emergency.The Veterans Re-employment Rights Act generally requires returning veterans be restored to positions they held prior to mobilization or to a position of similar seniority or pay.

The provisions of the law apply to all employers, regardless of size, both private and public - including the federal government.

In a statement issued Friday, Benson said returning veterans may even be entitled to positions better than the ones they left.

A returning veteran "does not step back on the seniority escalator at the point he stepped off," he said. "He steps back on at the precise position he would have occupied had he kept his position continuously during" his or her military service.

Benson said that policy has been expressly ratified by Congress as the "escalator principle."

While no substantial problems are expected, Benson warned that employers who wrongfully refuse to re-employ reservists and Guard members could face action in U.S. District Court.

Under the law, the Department of Labor is responsible for investigating complaints involving re-employment matters. Disputes which cannot be resolved on that level can be submitted to the U.S. attorney's office for possible litigation, Benson said.

Benson said he has assigned Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Sorenson to "serve as the point of contact for any such complaints."