The persons that protect this country from harm are oftentimes treated horribly by employers when they have to leave work for a deployment, training, or other military-required commitment. Because of an actual or perceived military commitment – be it a deployment or required training – some employers in order to avoid accommodating these military requirements will terminate, or refuse to hire/promote service members.
In 1994, in order to protect against these abuses, the U.S. Congress passed the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, (“USERRA”). This law protects the rights of persons who voluntarily or involuntarily leave employment positions to undertake military service – be it a short term training requirement or a longer-term deployment.
Essentially, USERRA provides that a service member cannot be treated differently because of the time they take off, or may take off, for their military service. With few exceptions, employers are required to hold the position for the returning service member, with the same job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. USERRA also requires that reasonable efforts, (such as training or retraining), be made to enable returning service members to refresh or upgrade their skills to help them qualify for reemployment.
The anti-discrimination prohibition applies to both employers and potential employers. No employer may deny a person initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment based on the person’s membership, application for membership, performance of service, application to perform service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services.
This legislation is to be liberally construed for the benefit of those who left private life to serve their country in its hour of great need. * * * And no practice of employers or agreements between employers and unions can cut down the service adjustment benefits which Congress has secured the veteran under the Act.