Military And Veterans’ Rights At Work
Those who serve our country in the armed services are protected from discrimination and harassment because of their military status. In addition, members of the military have an absolute right to reemployment once they return from deployment.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
The most important law protecting active members of the military and veterans is the The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, referred to as “USERRA.” USERRA is a federal law enacted in 1994 that provides comprehensive protections for non-career or part-time military members, including all branches of the Armed Forces, the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard.
USERRA provides two very important rights to military service members who are required to leave their civilian job for a time to perform uniformed service: (1) it prohibits discrimination against members of the military and (2) it guarantees reemployment after a deployment or absence from work to perform uniformed service.
Armed Forces Members Are Protected from Discrimination
USERRA makes it illegal for a private employer to discriminate against an employee because he or she is a member of the Armed Services. This means that an employer cannot refuse to hire, terminate, demote, fail to promote, or take any other negative employment action against the employee because he or she is an Armed Services member or performs duties in the Armed Services.
Employers must accommodate employees who need to be absent from work for training or to perform duties as part of their service commitment. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against employees for taking time off for service, or for exercising their rights under the law.
Armed Forces Members Are Absolutely Guaranteed Reemployment Following Active Duty
USERRA also protects military members from job loss following an absence from work for active duty. So long as the employee’s previous absences from work with the same employer do not total longer than 5 years, service members have an absolute right to return to work after active duty deployment.
Not only does USERRA guarantee reemployment, it requires employers to reemploy the service member in the position he or she would be in had there been no absence from work. In other words, if the employee would have received a promotion, the employee is entitled to the promotion upon returning from active duty service. The employer is required to provide any training the promotion might require.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 38% percent of complaints received from military members involved discrimination because of past, present or future military service, while 25% involved civilian employers’ failure to properly reemploy service members after active service ended.
California Law and Military or Veteran Status
California law also protects military members and veterans from discrimination, harassment and retaliation at work. Effective January 1, 2014, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) was amended to include “military or veteran status” among the classes of employees it protects. The FEHA defines “military or veteran status” as “a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces, United States Armed Forces Reserve, the United States National Guard, and the California National Guard.”
Contact our Orange County Office Today
The Orange County based Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams represents employees in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, wage & hour, whistleblower and other employment matters. If you think you have a employment discrimination claim, contact us today at 949-679-9909 or use the contact form below and we will respond promptly.