Your Rights Under USERRA
The U.S. is currently in the middle of two wars, and there are thousands of active uniformed service members who are trying to balance the demands of their country and their jobs. Reserves and National Guard members face particularly difficult challenges as they can be called up at a moment's notice, and their tours of duty can be extended. These requirements can put a tremendous strain on their ability to maintain their employment.
Fortunately, there is a federal anti-discrimination law that protects armed services members facing this difficult situation. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides that most military personnel must be returned to their jobs when returning from serving in the military, and it also prohibits discrimination based on an employee's military service.
If your rights have been violated, contact our team today for help fighting back.
The USERRA defines the term "Uniformed Services" broadly, and applies to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Public Health Service commissioned corps, as well as reservists in each of each of these branches.
The types of service covered by the Act include:
- Active duty
- Active and inactive training
- Funeral honors duty
- Periods of absence for the purpose of obtaining a fitness for duty examination
The USERRA covers nearly all employees, including part-time and probationary employees, and it covers almost all U.S. employers, whatever their size.
The law has three basic provisions. The first is a general rule prohibiting discrimination against covered service members in initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment by an employer on the basis of membership in a uniformed service application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation. The law also has, like the other federal anti-discrimination laws, a broad retaliation provision.
The law also requires employers to reemploy returning service members if the following five circumstances are met:
- The returning service member was in a civilian job;
- The returning service member must have given notice that he or she was leaving the job in order to perform uniformed service, unless notice was impossible or impractical under the circumstances;
- The period of service did not exceed five years;
- The returning service member must not have received a dishonorable or other form of punitive discharge from the service; and
- The returning service member must report back to work in a timely fashion after being discharged or submit a timely application for reemployment.
The time limits when you must return to work depend upon the length of your service. If all of these five conditions are met, the returning service member must be returned to his or her employment.
Explore Your Remedies with a Dedicated Atlanta USERRA Attorney
If you believe your employer has violated the Act, you have the right to file a private lawsuit.
The types of relief you are entitled to include:
- Injunctive relief;
- Compensation for lost wages and benefits;
- And an additional amount equal to your lost wages and benefits (known as "liquidated damages") if the court finds that your employer's violation of the act was willful.
If you are a service member getting ready to return to work, you are thinking about signing up for duty and are unsure of how it will affect your employment, or you feel you have been discriminated against because of your service, contact our Atlanta USERRA lawyers. You may have given several good years of your life to your country—you don't have to give up your job as well.
We can answer your questions and more. Call our office today.
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