The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects employees and potential employees from discrimination based on military service. Under USERRA you are protected from discrimination based on fast, current, and future service in the “uniformed services”. This includes protection for those who have applied to the military, but have not yet been accepted. If you believe that you have been a victim of employment discrimination based on military service, an employment attorney can help.
The uniformed services covered by USERRA include:
- Air Force
- Marine Corps
- Coast Guard
- Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
- Army National Guard
- Air National Guard
- Some types of disaster response
USERRA applies to reserve members.
Protections under USERRA
USERRA is not just for active duty service members. Employers cannot discriminate against employees, former employees, or applicants based on the fact that they:
- Have applied to be a member
- Have applied to perform
- Are a member
- Have been a member
- Currently perform service
- Have performed service
- Have an obligation to perform service
This means that they cannot make decisions or take actions motivated by any of the above regarding:
- Initial employment
As Americans we all benefit from USERRA re-employment protections which allow service members to take time off work to serve their country, knowing that they will still have a job to return to. Some of the conditions of these protections include:
- Giving notice to your employer that you will be leaving for service, if possible
- Reporting back to the civilian job or applying for re-employment in a timely fashion after service
- Cumulative time of service has not exceeded five years
- Release from service was not under dishonorable or punitive conditions
Defining a “Timely Manner”
The longer you were in service, the longer you have to report back to your job or re-apply. The guidelines are as follows:
- 30 days or less – you are allowed time for safe travel home and eight hours of rest, after that you must be at work by the beginning of the first work period on your first day home, or as soon as possible if that is impossible or unreasonable.
- 31 to 180 days (six months) – you must submit your application for re-employment no later than 14 days after the completion of service, or as soon as possible if that is impossible or unreasonable.
- 181 days or more – you must submit your application no later than 90 days after completion of service.
Your deadline can be extended by up to two years if you are hospitalized for or recovering from an injury or illness which was caused or aggravated during service.