The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects active and reserve military members from discrimination by their employers for their military particpation and requires employers to rehire some employees who become deployed. USERRA’s main purpose is to prevent employers from discriminating against military employees whether its by firing them, keeping them from elevating, or making their more difficult than for others in similar roles. Any discriminatory action will be considered a violation of the Act if the military service was a “motivating factor” of the action. Employees may have different remedies such as an injunction against being fired for a period of time or monetary damages. Most claims are informally resolved through the Secretary of Labor, but employees may bring a claim in court themselves or potentially through arbitration.
Another important provision requires employers to rehire most veterans after returning from service. In fact, the employee must be rehired at a position and pay equal to that as if the employee never left, and this means some employers must rehire the employees on better terms than they left. To qualify for this treatment, a veteran must have given the employer proper notice of future uniformed service and must start employment again soon after finishing service. This does not apply for employees who are in uniformed services for less than 32 days. Those who are in service for 32-180 cannot be fired by the employer after returning for at least 180 days with certain exceptions and a year for those that are in service for more than 180 days. There are exceptions that may disqualify an employee. An employee cannot be in service more than five years with the same employer and still be guaranteed employment after service. Further, an employer may not have to rehire an employee when they can prove that rehiring is no longer possible because of changes in the business or major financial difficulties prevent them doing so. However, this cannot mean that the job is just no longer available or that the same exact job no longer exists. The standard is unclear but essentially requires the reemployment to be highly impractical for the employer.
[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]