The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA") protects the civilian job rights and benefits for veterans and members of the Reserve and also protects them from discrimination. Under USERRA an individual may be absent from work for military duty and retain reemployment rights for up to five years. USERRA requires that members of the armed services returning to work be reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service—this is the so-called "escalator" principle—along with the same compensation, seniority and other terms and benefits of employment. The Act also requires employers to make reasonable efforts to allow returning employees to refresh or upgrade their skills to help them qualify for reemployment. If the employee for some reason cannot qualify for the "escalator" position upon his or her return, then the Act provides for alternative reemployment positions. USERRA allows service members absent for service in excess of 30 days to continue their health care coverage for 24 months. The Act also protects service members' pension plans.
USERRA requires service members to provide their employers with advance notice of military duty. A returning service member must also apply for reemployment within certain timeframes depending on how long he or she was away for military duty.
USERRA also protects all members of the armed services from discrimination in employment regardless of whether their military service was in the past, present or future. The anti-discrimination provisions of USERRA cover hiring, firing, reemployment, promotion, demotion, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment. The Act prohibits an employer from denying any benefit of employment on the basis of an individual's membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services.
Merrick Law Firm LLC assists service members with giving proper notice to their employers before leaving for military duty and with seeking reemployment and related rights upon their return. We also represent individuals who have been subjected to discrimination because of their military service. Call us at 312.269.0200 or contact us online to discuss your rights.