The Ohio employment attorneys at The Friedmann Firm feel strongly about helping employees who have been discriminated against because of their military status, a violation of USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Right Act). We feel strongly that those individuals who serve our country should be treated with the utmost respect and should never face adverse working conditions because of their service. This blog post will go through the basics of USERRA. Other blog posts will follow that will address more narrow issues in detail.
USERRA (38 U.S.C. Section 4312) is a federal law that applies to all employees, in all states. Some states have similar statutes as well. If you’d like to read the actual USERRA statute, please navigate to this page: http://www.justice.gov/crt/military/statute.htm. USERRA laws are enforced by The Department of Labor so you can also visit its website for more information.
Are you eligible for protection under USERRA?
1) You must have held a civilian job. USERRA applies to virtually all employers- federal, state and private.
2) You must give prior notice of the military service to the employer. It is not required that it be written notice and notice can be given from the employee or the employee’s responsible officer from his or her unit. There are exceptions, such as “military necessity” where short notice is unavoidable. Your employer must work with you in these circumstances, as they are typically out of your control.
3) Your military service cannot exceed a period of five years. The five year limit is cumulative but restarts every time the employee switches civilian employers. Some types of training, such as periodic service or a national emergency do not count toward the five year time period.
4) Employee must have been performing service in the “uniformed services.” This DOES NOT include state-funded National Guard duty.
5) Employee’s service must have been under “honorable conditions,” meaning no punitive discharge, no other than honorable discharge, etc.
Basic Protections of USERRA
The basis protections of USERRA ensure that those who serve or have served in the military (Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard) are 1) that members of military are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service; 2) are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from duty; 3) are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present or future military service.
Common types of discrimination a member of the military could face are the following: denial of initial employment application, reemployment, termination, demotion, denial of a promotion or any other employee benefit because of membership, application for membership, performance of service or obligation of service in the military.
What To Do
If you believe you have been discriminated against based on your military status, please contact one of our Columbus employment lawyers, who would be happy to speak with you. We believe strongly in the rights of our veterans! Thank you for your service.