Enacted in 1994, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects the employment rights of current and former members of the following:
- U.S. Armed Forces
- Army or Air National Guard
- Commissioned corps of the Public Health Services
- Other military service categories designated by the president during a national emergency or wartime
The USERRA, establishes federal guidelines for employers regarding hiring, rehiring, retaining, and providing benefits to uniformed service members. It aims to minimize the disadvantages that might otherwise be experienced when you must temporarily leave your civilian job to serve in the military.
If you are a uniformed member of any U.S. defense service and believe that your employer is discriminating against you due to your military status, you have legal options. To learn what they are, get a free case evaluation from a USERRA violation attorney in New Orleans & Baton Rouge. Attorney Robert B. Landry III and his team have decades of experience protecting the rights of employees across Louisiana and will help you seek any legal remedies available to you under the law.
Employer Responsibilities Under the USERRA
Every public and private employer in the United States is obligated to offer the following services and protections to uniformed service members:
- Protection From Discrimination: Employers cannot discriminate against current or former military personnel when hiring, firing, rehiring, promoting, or providing benefits. USERRA also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights.
- Protection From Termination: Once your leave is over and you’ve been reemployed, your employer cannot fire you without just cause. How long you are protected depends on your service record: if you’ve completed 181 days of military service, you can’t be fired without cause for one year after reemployment. For those who have completed 30 to 180 days, protection is in place for six months.
- Healthcare Reinstatement: If you are on military leave, you must be offered the same benefits as colleagues on other types of leave, such as FMLA.
Additional rights that must be made available to you include timely reemployment after your service ends, training and retraining opportunities, and accumulation of seniority-based benefits, such as pensions.
Eligibility for Reemployment Under the USERRA
If you leave your civilian position to carry out military service, the USERRA states that you are eligible for reemployment as long as the following conditions apply:
- You provided advance notice that you would be leaving the job for military service unless such notice was unreasonable or prevented by military necessity).
- Your cumulative period of military service with that employer does not exceed five years.
- The conditions under which you were released from service were not dishonorable or punitive.
- You reported back to your job or submitted an application for reemployment in a timely manner unless doing so was impossible or unreasonable. Generally speaking, if you completed up to 30 days of military service, you must report to your employer the next work day. A worker performing 31 to 180 days of service must apply for reemployment within 14 days of completing their service. If you have served 181 days or more, you have 90 days to reapply.
Does the USERRA Protect Disabled Service Members?
Yes. The USERRA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled veterans. Those recovering from injuries sustained during service or training may reapply for employment up to two years after they complete their service. It is the employer’s responsibility to reasonably accommodate a disabled employee so they can fulfill their original duties or, if that is not possible, provide them with a comparable position.
If you believe that your employer is refusing a reasonable accommodation request or employing other strategies to prevent your return to your civilian job, a Louisiana wrongful termination attorney can guide you through the process of filing a claim. USERRA claims do not currently have a statute of limitations, so a case that arises today can be filed at any time.
How Should You Respond to Employment Discrimination?
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against due to your military status, your first step is to contact VETS, the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor. The VETS will then investigate the matter and attempt to resolve it within 90 days. If it is unsuccessful, you can request a referral to the Attorney General. You also have the right to bring a private action against your employer with help from a USERRA violation attorney.
A USERRA attorney can prepare a case that results in some or all of the following remedies:
– Job reinstatement
– Compensation for loss of wages or benefits due to the employer’s failure to comply with USERRA
– Payment of double your lost wages and benefits for willful violations by private sector employers
– Attorney’s fees and court costs
Your USERRA Attorney in New Orleans & Baton Rouge
You put your health and wellbeing on the line every time you serve your country. If your employer discriminates against you for doing your duty, you deserve to have the best Louisiana employment lawyer on your side.
As a USERRA violation attorney, Robert B. Landry III considers it a privilege to help returning service members obtain their statutory entitlements. To book your free consultation and learn what he can do for you, please call 504-345-1220 (New Orleans) and 225-349-7460 (Baton Rouge) or contact us online.