In honor of Veterans and all they have done and do for our country, Anderson Jones, PLLC examines the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act.
More and more Veterans are returning home from the wars overseas. As they reestablish their civilian lives, many wish to reestablish their prior employment. Congress has enacted the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) which covers nearly every employer, even those with only a single employee. Thus, employers and service members alike must be aware this Act. Returning service members are provided three classes of rights under USERRA.
First, USERRA prohibits discrimination against an employee (or applicant) because of the person’s status as a service member. It protects against discrimination in hiring, promotion, re-employment or any other benefit of employment. It further prohibits employers from “retaliating” against employees who take action to enforce their rights or assist others in enforcing their rights under USERRA.
Second, re-employment rights are extended for those previously absent from employment because of their service. In most cases, employers are required to re-employ service members upon return from military leave or duty. The service member must meet certain criteria for re-employment rights, including: (1) providing adequate notice of leave to the employer under the circumstances; and (2) a timely re-application for employment. The Act outlines deadlines service members must meet to return to work or apply for re-employment following leave. However, an employer does not have to rehire an individual if the employer can prove that: (1) re-employment is impossible or unreasonable due to circumstances having so changed since the individual left employment for military service; (2) re-employment would cause the employer undue hardship; or (3) the position was one of a temporary nature; or (4) employer is not required to re-employ a service member whose leave exceeds five years.
Finally, upon re-employment, USERRA entitles service members to the same position and seniority-based benefits the employee would have enjoyed if the employee’s employment had not been interrupted by military leave.
As employers are knowledgeable of USERRA, simple policies can be put into place to make sure that we welcome our troops home grateful for their sacrifices and in compliance with the law.
For more information regarding USERRA or other Employment Law issues, please contact Matthew Duncan with Anderson Jones, PLLC Attorneys at Law at (919) 277-2541 or by email.