Overview: The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that is intended to encourage individuals to participate in uniformed service while minimizing the disruption to an employer's business operations. Uniformed service includes full-time National Guard duty, active duty, active and inactive duty for training, certain funeral honors and attending military service academy. Several states expand the definition of uniformed services to cover state National Guard duty. USERRA also requires employers to promptly reemploy employees who serve in the uniformed services and prohibits discrimination and retaliation against individuals who serve or who are affiliated with the uniformed services.
Almost all public and private employers must comply with USERRA. In fact, even those who have control over an employee's employment opportunities or whom an employer has delegated the performance of employment-related responsibilities must comply with USERRA - therefore, supervisors, managers and HR professionals may be held individually liable for USERRA violations. Undoubtedly, proper training is critical.
Employers should be mindful that in certain situations, USERRA will overlap with other federal and state laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, although employees are eligible to take leave under FMLA only if they have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the FMLA leave, employees who serve in the uniformed services are entitled to credit for hours they would have worked if not for military leave. Moreover, in addition to the benefits USERRA provides to employees who serve in the military, the FMLA has two military-related leaves (military caregiver leave and military exigency leave) that may apply to family members the employee leaves behind.
Trends: With so many US employees currently overseas on uniformed services leave, the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice strongly believes that these servicemembers should not sacrifice their civilian job in order to serve their country. In response, the DOJ is actively suing employers that do not comply with USERRA.
Author: Melissa S. Burdorf, JD, Legal Editor
Several sections of the Employment Law Manual have been updated to reflect a recent 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Rivera-MelÉndez v. Pfizer Pharms., LLC, which addresses the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act's escalator principle. The federal USERRA section has also been updated.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who take leave to perform uniformed services. This section reviews USERRA rights and obligations related to leave, reinstatement, discrimination and retaliation, notice, compensation and benefits, termination and more.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Maine employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to USERRA.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Massachusetts employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to USERRA.
In-depth review of the spectrum of New Hampshire employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to USERRA
In-depth review of the spectrum of Rhode Island employment law requirements HR must follow with respect USERRA.
Several California Employment Law Manual sections have been updated to include an amendment to California's Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibiting discrimination against employees and applicants due to their military or veteran status.
In-depth review of the spectrum of California employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to USERRA
In-depth review of the spectrum of Connecticut employment law requirements HR must follow with respect USERRA.
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HR guidance on USERRA and handling uniformed service leave obligations.