USERRA and Service Member Employment Law Rights

Despite their loyalty and service to the citizens of the U.S., some military and service members are met with hostility, discrimination, and mistreatment in the workplace. Military members may also struggle with maintaining employment when they are deployed for military leave.

If you have returned from work after uniformed duty and have been demoted, lost benefits, or have suffered from discrimination in the workplace, you may have a claim. Our employment lawyers will investigate your case, pursue all relevant claims and remedies, and help you protect your rights against a private employer in the state of Minnesota.

What is military member employment discrimination?

Service members have broad employment rights under federal law, especially related to retaliation and discrimination. Current or former members of the armed services who are applying for jobs or who have taken leave from jobs to participate in the armed services are protected under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”). That means that you can file a claim and pursue all remedies in the evnt of discrimination.

USERRA may apply to your case if:

  • You are returning work after uniformed service leave and have been demoted or lost benefits
  • You have suffered discrimination or retaliation related to your leave or status as a member of the armed services

USERRA broadly protects the rights and privileges of military members. Unfortunately, many service members are unware of their rights when returning to work following extended tours in the armed services.

Under USERRA, how do I protect my job if I am going on military leave?

Service members are protected under USERRA if they give advanced written OR verbal notice of service. If you have five years or less of cumulative service work with that employer and you return to work in a timely manner after the conclusion of your service, you may qualify for protections. To ensure your protected status, you must not have separated with a disqualifying discharge or under less than honorable conditions.

Can my employer terminate me upon returning from duty?

Under USERRA, a reemployed service member may not be terminated except for cause within either six months (if employment prior to reemployment was 30-180 days) or one year (if employment prior to reemployment was greater than 180 days) of the service member's reemployment. To prove cause, an employer must show both that (1) it was reasonable to discharge the employee based on the service member's conduct, and (2) the employee was given notice that the conduct would give the employer cause to terminate him or her.

What if I have suffered discrimination or retaliation?

Service members have broad protections under USERRA against discrimination or retaliation. If you are a past or present member of the uniformed service or you have applied for membership and you have been denied employment, reemployment, retention, or promotion, you may have a legal claim with entitlements to compensation. Legal action may also be available to you if you have been denied benefits because of your military status.

Can my employer stop paying health insurance?

If you leave your job to perform military service, your employer has a duty to continue your employer-based health care coverage for up to 24 months. You also have the right to reinstate your coverage when you are reemployed without any waiting period or pre-existing condition exclusion unless those exclusions are related to service-connected illnesses and injuries.

Contact Our Minnesota Employment Lawyers
Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP is currently investigating cases of retaliation and discrimination against service members, as well as other violations of USERRA. If you believe your service member employment rights have been violated our attorneys want to hear from you. Contact us for a free initial consultation.