Leave for Military Personnel and Caregivers More Than 30 Years Serving St. Louis for All Employment Law Needs

Military Personnel and Caregivers

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Riggan Law Firm, LLC represents military personnel who have been unlawfully treated in the workplace, such as being denied a leave of absence from work to serve or whose right to return to civilian employment has been violated. The United States Congress passed the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Act (USERRA) in 1994, which requires that all employers cannot fire or demote military personnel simply because of their service or call to service. This is important for both active duty personnel during times of war and military reservists during times of peace who still need to fulfill monthly commitments.

Re-Employment Protections Under USERRA

When a service member leaves a civilian position to serve, they are protected from losing their jobs by unpaid job leave guaranteed by USERRA. These protections can last 5 years or longer, depending on the service that is being performed and their civilian duties.

Once a civilian employer receives notice of an employee’s military leave, the employer must provide reasonable accommodations to the service member. Persons seeking protection under USERRA must report back to their civilian employer with appropriate documentation within a specified time period after their military service concludes to retain all their privileges under the Act.

The required time period for reporting back to work following deployment depends on the length of the military leave:

  • Leave of 30+ days or less - report by beginning of next regular shift
  • Leave of 31 to 180 days - apply for re-employment no later than 14 days following completion of service
  • Leave of more than 180 days - apply for re-employment no later than 90 days following completion of service

There are exceptions to these rules if reporting back to work is impossible or unreasonable, or if the service member has a disability.

Note that misconduct in the military, including dishonorable or less-than-honorable discharges, may strip an employee of USERRA protection. If a service member is court martialed, has gone through a mast process, or has gone absent without leave (AWOL), they will likely lose their civilian positions as well as their military service positions.

Your USERRA Employee Rights

USERRA affords service members certain re-employment rights when they leave military service and seek to return to their pre-service civilian employment. The nature of those rights depends upon the length of military service. If the military service lasted 90 days or less, the employee is entitled to return to the same position that they would have held if the employment had not been interrupted by military service, assuming the person is still qualified for the position.

Similarly, if the military service lasted more than 90 days, the employee is entitled to return to the position that they would have held if the employment had not been interrupted by military service, or they may return to a position of similar status, seniority, and pay, assuming the employee is still qualified.

In addition to leave and re-employment rights, USERRA also affords certain job protections even after a service member is re-employed. For example, a returning employee who is absent for good cause (e.g. not for misconduct) may not be terminated for 6 months if the service leave was between 31 and 180 days. For leave of more than 180 days, the anti-termination provision is extended to 1 year.

Be aware that there are special situations in which an employer is not required to re-employ a returning service member under USERRA.

An employer is excused from USERRA's re-employment obligations if:

  • changes in circumstances make re-employment unreasonable or impossible;
  • re-employment of the service member would impose an undue hardship on the employer; or
  • the service member was only employed for a brief or non-recurrent period.

Leave for Caregivers of Military Personnel

If you are someone serving as a caregiver to a service member, you may be eligible for military caregiver leave. Under federal law, employers must provide military caregiver leave to eligible employees to care for covered, active service members who have incurred serious illness or injury in the line of duty.

Note that these service members must be:

  • receiving treatment,
  • undergoing therapy,
  • in recovery, or
  • otherwise in outpatient status or on the temporary disability retired list, not the permanent disability retired list.

However, your leave time is limited. If you seek to request leave to care for a service member in your family, or if you have been denied such a request, it will be in your best interest to contact an attorney for legal counsel to learn about your options.

Retain Riggan Law Firm, LLC in Missouri or Illinois

If you are seeking leave from or returning to civilian employment, or if you have been denied re-employment or benefits due to your military leave of absence, you may need an experienced employment lawyer to advise you of your leave entitlements and re-employment rights under USERRA and additional state laws. The attorneys at Riggan Law Firm, LLC can provide you with aggressive and professional legal representation in your employment case, especially if you’re dealing with violations of military leave and re-employment rights.

If you believe your rights as military personnel or caregiver have been violated, do not hesitate to contact Riggan Law Firm, LLC as soon as possible. Call the office at (314) 684-8406 or contact them online here.

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