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Understanding the protections provided to military workers under USERRA

As a nation, we are eternally grateful to those brave men and women who have served or are currently serving in our nation's armed forces. As a sign of this gratitude, our nation is proud to provide veterans with access to healthcare, education and a host of other benefits, and to extend certain legal protections to those individuals who are currently serving.

By way of example, consider the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, otherwise known as USERRA, a federal law designed to extend re-employment rights to those returning from military leave.

What exactly does USERRA do?   

USERRA essentially dictates that any member of the armed forces who has to leave their place of employment to fulfill their military service is entitled to come back to the same job they would have had if they never had to depart in the first place.

Does USERRA only apply to particular employers?

While certain landmark federal laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act only apply to employers of a certain size, USERRA applies to any and all employers. This means all military personnel -- from those holding white-collar positions for corporations located in major cities to those holding blue-collar positions for small outfits in rural communities -- are protected.

What is USERRA's escalator provision?

As stated above, USERRA enables military personnel to return to their same position after completion of military service. It's important to understand, however, that the law's escalator provision means that the returning employee isn't just entitled to the same pay, benefits, seniority, etc. as they had when they left, but also any pay increases and/or promotions which they would have otherwise been entitled to receive.

We'll continue this discussion in our next post …

Whether you are an employer with questions about USERRA compliance or an employee who believes their USERRA rights were violated, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

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