MILITARY LEAVE & USERRA RIGHTS
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the California Military and Veterans Code are laws that protect veterans as well as active and reserve military personnel. It is illegal to discriminate or retaliate against an employee because of their service in the military, because they have applied for membership in the military, or because they are a veteran.
In addition to prohibiting discrimination, the USERRA provides many other benefits to members and former members of the uniformed services. One of the primary benefits is that civilian employees may be eligible for up to 5 years of job-protected leave to perform their military duties.
Under the USERRA, employers are required to reinstate returning service members to the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. This is often referred to as the “escalator” principle). Unlike most other leave laws, this means that returning service members may be entitled to promotions or increases in pay when they return to work and the USERRA requires employers to make reasonable efforts to train or retrain returning service members so that they are qualified for reemployment.
USERRA also protects individuals who become disabled while performing military service. Employees who are disabled while performing their military duties may be eligible for additional leave and to reasonable accommodations upon their return to work.
USERRA also prohibits employers from terminating returning service members without cause for a period of time after their reinstatement.
The USERRA’s benefits and protections, as well as an employee’s obligations under USERRA, vary depending on the length of military services and other circumstances.