Service in the U.S. Armed Forces is considered to be an honorable duty that often requires ordinary citizens to volunteer to support their country in a time of need. People from civilian professions often sign up for the military reserves, knowing that they may be required to leave their positions of employment to serve their nation in a time of war. Fortunately, the law protects a reservist position at work if they are called into active duty.
In times of peace, many military reservists may not be called into active duty, and may only be required to commit to occasional weekend service for training and other military duties. In times of war, however, reservists may receive orders from the government requiring them to report for active duty and service. In recent years, U.S involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has required the activation of more than 10,000 civilians serving in the reserves.
If a person is called into active duty, he or she is required to report to the specified base for service. This commitment cannot be denied, and there are serious legal consequences for failure to report. Fortunately, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA) of 1994 was established to protect a person’s employment position and status while he or she is away on military duty.
The law states that employers must allow person’s with written military orders to leave their positions for any length of time required by the government without question. The employee’s sick time and vacation time is protected as well, meaning the business cannot legally “dock” earned vacation time for the absence from work.
The employer is allowed to fill the absent worker’s position with contract labor or a temporary employee, but must be prepared to give the job back to the reservist upon return from duty. The military reservist must be re-hired at the same level or position that he or she was at before being called into action. Employers are also not allowed to discriminate against persons who are committed to the military reserves, despite the fact that they may be forced to replace the person for a temporary period during times of war.
If you have faced employment discrimination because of your position in the military reserves, or if your employer has failed to meet the requirements outlined by the USERRA act, you may be able to take legal action. If you would like to know more about the military reserves and employment law, visit the website of the San Antonio
of Melton & Kumler, LLP.