Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Michael S. Hudson, The Kullman Firm
- Mississippi requires an employer to reinstate employees who take leave to perform military duty or training under certain circumstances. See Mississippi Military Leave.
Mississippi Military Leave
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is a federal law that provides leave rights for public and private employees with military obligations. Among other things, USERRA requires employers to reinstate employees returning from military leave and to train or otherwise qualify returning employees. See Employee Leaves > USERRA.
Under Mississippi law, any person who is a member of any reserve component of the US Armed Forces, or former member discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable, who takes leave to perform duties or receive training with the Armed Forces of the US, the State of Mississippi or any other state (including active state duty, state training duty or any other military duty authorized under Title 10 or Title 32 of the US Code) is entitled to be restored to his or her previous position or a similar position with the same status, pay and seniority. The period of absence for military duty or training must be considered an absence with leave, but may be unpaid.
To be eligible for reinstatement, the employee must:
- Work in other than a temporary position;
- Provide evidence of the satisfactory completion of military duty or training; and
- Still be qualified to perform the position's duties.
Mississippi law provides criminal penalties for discrimination against current and former members of the US Armed Forces reserves. Specifically, an employer may not:
- Willfully deprive a covered servicemember of employment or discriminate in any conditions of employment because of membership or former membership in such service; or
- Threaten injury (physical or otherwise) to dissuade or attempt to dissuade any person from enlisting or accepting a warrant or commission in any reserve or active component of the US Armed Forces.
An employer that violates this law may be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000 and/or imprisoned for up to six months.
Employers should maintain documentation of any impending military leaves. If an employee gives oral notice of an impending military leave, an employer should document such notice and place it in the employee's file. HR personnel should inform all managers/supervisors that they must forward any written notice, and communicate any oral notice, of an employee's pending military leave to the HR department. Employers should remember, however, that under the federal USERRA law, written or oral notice of military leave is sufficient to meet the employee's obligation to inform the employer of the need for military leave.
Employers should also maintain documentation for all employment actions taken against an employee on military-related leave to the same extent as it maintains documentation of those actions for other employees. Because USERRA and military leave lawsuits can arise as a result of alleged discrimination based on military service or enlistment in the military, employers should have documentation to demonstrate that any action it has taken is not related to or the result of an employee's service in the military.
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