USERRA: Armed Services Employees Rights Under The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”), 38 U.S.C. § 4301, is a federal law which provides certain job protection to private and public sector employees who serve, or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard or other “uniformed services.” USERRA provides legal protection to military members so that military members are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their military service. USERRA provides protections for employees requiring employers to promptly re-employ employees in their civilian jobs upon their return from military duty and also makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against military members in private and public sector employment based on past, present, or future military service.

Reemployment rights under USERRA include the right to be reemployed in a civilian job if an employee leaves that job to perform service in the uniformed service when the employer receives advance notice of military service; the employee has five years or less of cumulative service in the uniformed services while with the particular employer; the employee returns to work or applies for reemployment in a timely manner after conclusion of the uniformed service; and the employee was not separated from service with a disqualifying discharge or under dishonorable conditions. Upon reemployment, the employee must be restored to the same job and benefits the employee would have had if the employee was not absent due to military service or, in some cases, to a comparable job.

USERRA also prohibits discrimination against an employee who is a past or present member of the uniformed service; has applied for membership in the uniformed service or is obligated to serve in the uniformed service. Employers may not deny employees initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment, because of military service.

Employers also cannot retaliate against any individual who assists in the enforcement of USERRA rights, including testifying or making a statement in connection with any proceeding under USERRA, even if that person has not served in the military service.

Employees who have had their USERRA rights violated can file a civil action against their employers and recover all compensation and losses denied, including back pay and front pay (lost wages), reinstatement to a former position held prior to the wrongful termination at the same rate of pay, reasonable attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees and costs; and when violations are shown to be willful, a court may award liquidated damages (double damages).

We represent employees who have had their USERRA rights violated and have been denied reinstatement or have been discriminated against based upon their military service. Call Abramson Employment Law at 267-470-4742 or contact us online to discuss your legal options.

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