The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that applies to all employers and is enforced by the US Department of labor (DOL) and the Veterans Employment and Training Service.

What should you do as an employer when an employee seeks job or benefits protection under USERRA?

USERRA prohibits employers from denying any benefit of employment on the basis of an individual’s membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services. What does this mean practically speaking?

  • Employers are required to:
    • USERRARe-employ workers who have been honorably discharged or who have satisfactorily completed their military service in the Reserves or National Guard. Specifically:
      • Reasonably accommodate an employee that suffered a disabling injury and allow him or her to perform the duties of the job they would have had had they not been called up.
      • Treat a rehire as if they have never left. This means that any promotions, seniority or raises that they would have received had they not been deployed, must be afforded to them upon
        their return
  • Employees seeking job or benefits protection under USERRA have a number of responsibilities to their employers and other requirements before they qualify for such protection. Employees must:
    • Have five years or less of cumulative service in the uniformed services while with any one particular employee
    • Return to work or apply for re-employment in a timely manner after conclusion of service
    • Not have been dishonorably discharged

Employers must also be aware of violating USERRA by discriminating against applicants or current employees. Retaliating against such employees, which includes testifying or making a statement in connection with a proceeding under USERRA, is strictly forbidden and punishable under the Act. This even applies to individuals who haven’t served in the military.

There are certain procedural and technical requirements that apply and which may modify or eliminate some or all of the above requirements.  Please consult with your legal counsel to navigate the law prior to making employment decisions.

*This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.