Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA)
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is a federal law that protects IAs and other military reservists from discrimination in employment and termination from employment because of their military affiliation. The law is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) serves as a liaison between military reserve and national guard personnel and their civilian employers. ESGR's mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflict through mediation. ESGR provides trained Ombudsmen who act as mediators to provide information, counseling, and if required mediation to assist employers are in compliance with USERRA laws.
Reservists need to be aware that USERRA contains a number of expections to the requirement that employers reemploy reservists upon their return from active duty. For example, an employer is not required to reemploy a returning veteran if they can demonstrate that the employee would have been laid off had they not been called to active duty. USERRA does not protect reservists who are on military leave from a given employer for a cumulative total of five years.
Reservists must demonstrate that they gave proper notice to the employer before leaving for active duty. The employer does not need to reemploy the returning veteran to perform the same job - they could reemploy the veteran to do a different job at the same salary. An employer can also terminate the veteran for cause (such as poor performance) if they can demonstrate that such cause was not related to their military service.
IAs who are denied reemployment should contact their local ESGR representative for advice. Remember that you can contact ESGR anonymously. Note that ESGR personnel can offer mediation services, but they cannot act in any legal capacity whatsoever on the returning veteran's behalf.
If you are unable to resolve the issue you have the option of filing a complaint with the Department of Labor (DOL). If the DOL finds that your case has merit they can forward your case to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) who may pursue the case on your behalf (unfortunately this process can take a long time).
In addition, you have the right to hire an attorney at your own expense. Note that you may lose your right to pursue your case with the DOL/DOJ when you hire a private attorney.
ESGR offers a number of awards to employers who provide exceptional support of our national defense through leadership practices and personnel policies that support their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve, including the Above and Beyond Award, the Pro Patria Award, the Freedom Award, and the Patriot Award. In addition, ESGR provides "Bosslifts" which transport employers, via military aircraft, to military facilities where they can observe National Guard and Reserve members on duty.