NOTE: The intention of this article is to provide general information only. It reflects the law at publication time. To find out how the law applies to your situation, or how to provide notice properly, contact your legal assistance office or ESGR.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act - commonly known as USERRA - is a federal law that provides service members and former service members protections related to the civilian jobs they held before being called up for active duty.
Under USERRA, an employer - including any government or private company, regardless of size - may not deny you employment, promotion or any benefit of employment because you served in the military.
In some cases, employers even provide greater rights and benefits than USERRA requires. However, they cannot refuse to provide any right or benefit guaranteed by USERRA.
What can USERRA's additional assistance and enforcement do for you?
You're entitled to help courtesy of the secretary of labor (through the Veterans' Employment and Training Service). If you feel that your employer has discriminated against you while you're reintegrating into your previous job, the secretary will enforce your rights under USERRA. After you file a complaint, the secretary will:
- Investigate the complaint
- Provide technical assistance for filing your complaint with your employer
- Attempt to resolve the complaint
- Request assistance from federal and state agencies, if necessary
How to get help
Be sure to learn about the protections under the law before your separation so you'll know your rights. For instance, in cases covered by USERRA, the burden of proof of discrimination falls on you. However, if you feel your employer hasn’t treated you fairly, or in accordance with the law, you can get help in one of three ways:
- Ombudsman services through employment support from the National Guard and reserve. The ombudsman services can help prevent and resolve conflicts related to USERRA. The program offers informal mediation services and referrals to resolve employer conflicts. You can submit questions or request assistance from the Employment Support of Guard and Reserve, or ESGR, through the ESGR Customer Service Center. To find out more about these services, speak to your legal assistance office or contact the customer service center at 800-336-4590, and choose option 1. You can also find resources for USERRA at ESGR.
- Veterans' Employment and Training Service. The Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service, or VETS, can help you with employment and re-employment rights and benefits under USERRA. Their wide range of services includes outreach activities, USERRA briefings, a USERRA advisor, the e-VETS Resource Advisor and other web-based materials.
- Court actions. You can file a court action directly, without filing a complaint with ESGR or with VETS.
Protection, assistance and enforcement against discrimination after deployment are part of your rights under USERRA. Go to Title 38, Section 4312, Subsection III, for more information about this act.