Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
Civilian Job Rights and Benefits for Service Members
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) was created to protect reemployment rights for service members returning from deployment. This Act also applies to those who have been called to duty from the Reserves or the National Guard. Under the USERRA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their military service or obligation.
The USERRA clarifies and strengthens veterans’ provisions covered under the Veterans' Reemployment Rights (VRR) Statute. Under the USERRA, civilians' job rights and benefits for veterans and members of Reserve components are protected. The USERRA also provides certain protections for disabled veterans, requiring that employers make reasonable efforts to accommodate their disabilities.
The USERRA made sweeping improvements in protecting service member rights and employment benefits, improving the available enforcement mechanisms, and adding federal government employees to the pool of employees that were already eligible to receive assistance from the Department of Labor in processing claims. Additionally, under the USERRA, an employee's cumulative length for which they can be absent from work for military duty and retain reemployment benefits has been extended from 4 years to 5 years.
Note that there are exceptions to the 5-year limit, which include:
- initial enlistments that last longer than 5 years,
- period training for the National Guard and Reserve, and
- involuntary active duty extensions and recalls, particularly those during a time of emergency.
USERRA Rights and Litigation: Contact (314) 684-8406
The USERRA offers numerous protections for absent employees who have been performing uniformed services, such as requiring that returning service members be reemployed in the same job they would have attained had they not left for military service. Additionally, under the long-standing "escalator" principle, such employees have the right to return with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other benefits afforded by their seniority. The USERRA also requires that employers take reasonable efforts to train or retrain the returning service member in order to refresh or bring their skills up to date.
There are numerous rights and protections afforded by the USERRA to service members who are absent from work to fulfill their military duties. If you have questions about the law and what employment privileges you hold as a former service member, or if you feel those rights have been violated upon returning from service, contact an employment lawyer at Riggan Law Firm, LLC. The legal team can assess the facts of your situation and build a strong lawsuit to protect your rights and reemployment benefits you deserve.
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