The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) offers employment and benefits protections to those who are members of the National Guard or Reserves, or who serve in the uniformed services of the United States. The USERRA applies to both public and private sector employers and guarantees reemployment rights for up to five years following an employee’s entry into a period of uniformed service. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of uniformed service with respect to initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any other benefit of employment. It also clarifies the employee’s rights with regard to leave that is taken in connection with active duty service.
Federal employees who believe their USERRA rights have been violated by an agency or the Office of Personnel Management may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor or an appeal directly with the Merit Systems Protection Board. It is important to note that there is no statute of limitations on USERRA claims and claims may be made for service prior to its enactment in 1994.
Coverage includes those serving in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and any of the National Guard or Reserve components of these services. It includes active duty, training, and full-time National Guard duty. Coverage does not exist for those separated for reasons other than an honorable discharge. Military retirees are also eligible.
The cause of action for these types of claims is discrimination, in that military status was at least a motivating or substantial factor in the agency action complained of and can go so far as to include a claim of harassment and/or hostile work environment.
Questions concerning any potential USERRA issues should be directed to NATCA’s Director of Labor Relations Ryan Smith.