Being able to maintain solid and viable employment should not be a deterrent to providing service to our country by joining the active and reserve armed forces. Fear of discrimination in the workplace should never be a deciding factor for someone who is willing to serve the country’s greater good.
In recognition of this, current and former members of the active and reserve United States armed forces have special protection of their employment rights. Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), civilian job rights and benefits are protected for service members when they leave their employment in order to provide service within the uniformed services.
Any person who joins one of our armed forces for less than a full time position is entitled to protections of the USERRA. As long as you notify your employer of your service, you have five years or less with the uniformed services, after leaving your employer, and you are not discharged dishonorably you are entitled to a return to work after your service ends. When you return to your employment you are entitled to the same position you would have obtained had you not left your employment to serve in the uniformed services.
The protections of the USERRA apply to all branches of the uniformed services, including the National Guard and the U.S. Army reserves.
Remedies for violation may be sought in federal court. For example, in 2010 a federal court found that the Corrections Corporation of America had violated the rights of an employee by not rehiring him after he was deployed for active duty in Iraq. According to the case, despite the plaintiff having properly notified his employer of his position with the Army reserves it had attempted to mischaracterize his leave of absence as being a resignation, and attempted to remove his family’s health insurance coverage during his deployment. Additionally, upon his return from service they did not return his calls or reinstate him in his former position.
These actions were in clear violation of the USERRA. Not only is employment status protected under USERRA, service members are also entitled to protection against discrimination or retaliation for exercising their rights. If you believe that your rights are in jeopardy, you cannot be prevented from acting to protect them by getting in touch with someone who can help you.
If you or someone you know is a current or former member of the uniformed services and you have experienced discrimination in employment, contact the attorneys at Armstrong and Vaught, P.L.C. to arrange a free consultation. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online. You should not be punished for volunteering to serve your country.