Employment Protection for Members of the U.S. Armed Forces

Are you a member of the U.S. Armed Forces? Are you concerned for your job security during a deployment, activation for disaster relief, or scheduled weekend drill? This is a serious concern for many military service members who work a civilian job during non-service times.

You, as a member of the military force, sacrifice a great deal to serve and protect our nation. You should not also be concerned about whether or not you will have a job when you return home.           

What is military status discrimination? 

Discrimination based on an employee’s military status is illegal under multiple laws. This discrimination may include a variety of actions regarding employment including denying employment, promotion, or raise due to the employee’s past, current, or potential future military status. It may also include the refusal to hire or reemploy upon return, unreasonable denial of promotion, demotion, or harassment because of an employee’s military status.

During times that you are not able to work your civilian job due to military service-related conflicts, such as deployment and unit activation for drill or other forms of mandatory military training, you may feel concerned about your job security or experiencing employment discrimination.

Fortunately, there are several laws which protect you and your job during your absence in the case of these mandatory, military-related events, including the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Vietnam Era Veteran’s Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA).

What is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act?

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law which prohibits discrimination in the workplace against members of the U.S. Armed Forces, whether it is based on past, current, or potential future involvement in military service. This refers to anyone who is or was either voluntarily or involuntarily involved in the “uniformed services”, including the Army, Marine Corps, Army National Guard, Coast Guard, Air Force, Air National Guard, or Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. This Act protects service members at every stage of military involvement, including anyone on active duty, inactive duty training, initial active duty training, active duty for training, and funeral honors.

Under what circumstances am I protected?

If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you are protected under several different situations regarding military service and employment. For example, civilian employers must reemploy you if you:

  • Left a civilian job because you were deployed or activated for service or training;
  • Informed your employer in advance that it would be necessary for you to leave your job due to your involvement in the military; and
  • Were not dishonorably discharged or asked to leave as part of a military-related punishment.

What jobs am I eligible for?

The USERRA protects your right to be reemployed in the same or a similar position you would have been in if you had not left the workforce as part of your military duties. For example, if you were the head of a department when you left the workforce four years ago, you should be given the same or similar job with the same benefits and pay upon your return.

How long do I have to submit my reemployment application?

When you return home after deployment or activation for service or training, you are given a certain amount of time to apply to your company for reemployment, depending on the amount of time you have spent in military service.

For example, if your service time was more than 181 days, you have 90 days upon completion of that service time to apply for reemployment. However, if you sustained an injury during your service which resulted in a disability, you have two years from completion of military service to return to your civilian job, so long as you can still adequately perform your job responsibilities with or without reasonable accommodations. Again, you are entitled to a similar job with the same pay and benefits as you held prior to leaving the civilian workforce for military service.

Are part-time service member employees protected?

Yes, regardless of the level of employment, whether full time or part time, all service members deserve and receive the same level of protection under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Right Act (USERRA).

What is the Vietnam Era Veteran’s Readjustment Assistance Act?

The Vietnam Era Veteran’s Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) provides special employment-related protections to military service members, including veterans, disabled veterans, and recently separated veterans, who served in the Vietnam era.

My employer has violated my employment protection rights as a member of the U.S. Armed Services. What do I do next?

Even though your job and rights are protected by several federal laws, not all employers are aware of these laws or, even if they are aware, they may fail to honor these rights in accordance with the applicable guidelines set forth by federal statutes.

If you believe your rights under Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) have been violated — or if you are facing another form of employment discrimination due to your involvement and service in the military — you may want to consider hiring an employment discrimination attorney. The attorneys at V. James DeSimone Law are proud to represent our military service members throughout Southern California in their employment discrimination matters. We can help educate you about your choices, guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit if necessary, and to fight on your behalf to protect your legal rights.

If you are a military service member who is reentering the job force after a time of absence due to deployment or unit activation for service or training, do not let your employer take advantage of you. Protect yourself, your family, and your job by knowing and understanding your rights and protections under the law.

When you need the highest quality counsel to protect your rights, you can trust that you will always have direct access to an attorney with an in-depth knowledge and experience in this field. To schedule a consultation, you may call us today at (310) 693-5561.

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