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Returning to Work After Military Service: What You Need to Know

For civilians who serve in the military reserves or National Guard, being called to duty is a stressful time for you and your family. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting your job back when you return. Thankfully, there is a federal law, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), that protects your job.

What is your employer required to do?

USERRA requires an employer to promptly reemploy you when you return from military service. The employer must put you back into the same position, and you may also be entitled to advancement to a higher position that you would have obtained had you never left. This is called the “escalator position.”

What are your responsibilities?

In order to ensure you get your job back, there are certain things you need to do:

  1. Provide advance notice to your employer that you are leaving for military service;
  2. Ensure that your service is limited to five years, although many types of service will not count against this time limit; and
  3. When you return from military service, it is important to report back to work or request reemployment in a timely manner. What is considered “timely” depends on the length of military service, and it could be as short as one day.

How Do You Enforce Your Rights?

If your employer refuses to give you your job back, or you have been treated unfairly due to your military service, you have several options available to enforce your rights. The Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL/VETS) is responsible for investigating and resolving complaints involving USERRA. You can file a complaint online and DOL/VETS will assist you in trying to reach a resolution with your employer. If a resolution isn’t reached, you can ask the government to file a lawsuit against your employer on your behalf. If the government doesn’t take your case on for you, you have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer yourself.

USERRA covers nearly all employers and employees, but there are some exceptions. Therefore, it is important to discuss your case with DOL/VETS and/or an experienced attorney who is familiar with USERRA. With decades of experience in the field of employment law, the lawyers of Alan Lescht & Associates have successfully represented returning service members whose USERRA rights have been violated, facing all types of actions, including removal. Our firm is ready to begin exploring all potential claims and remedies available to you. Call 202-463-6036 to schedule a consultation.

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