Those who serve bravely in the military deserve our respect and admiration. When military personnel return to civilian life, the transition can be challenging. Matters are made worse when the job they had before serving is no longer there for them.
Our Allen, TX law firm wants to make sure our heroes receive expert legal counsel when facing issues related to wrongful termination and employer discrimination. Let’s consider the legal protections for active duty military personnel, and what can be done when employers violate these laws.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
The USERRA is a federal law that helps protect military personnel in uniformed services. The USERRA covers individuals those in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The protections extend to those in the Reserves as well as the National Guard (when in federal status).
“Uniformed service” refers to active duty military, active duty training, active and inactive duty for training purposes, or funeral honors by members of the reserves and National Guard.
Re-Employment of Military Personnel
Under the USERRA, employers are required to re-employ service members with the same job or a similar position upon their return to work. The returning employee cannot be demoted simply because they have gone to serve their country.
Recognizing Promotions and Career Trajectory
The USERRA also requires employers to provide the same benefits and seniority that would have been earned by the returning employee had they not left for active duty. This has been termed “the escalator principle,” meaning that the returning employee continues along the upward career trajectory without interruption regardless of active duty.
Training/Re-Training Employees Who Return from Service
In addition to the above, the USERRA requires employers to make reasonable efforts are training a returning employee for the position upon re-employment. If the employee is returning to a similar position as the one they left, re-training for the job will be required if necessary.
Some restrictions and exceptions do apply regarding the USERRA protections, but this generally offers an idea of how the USERRA helps prevent employer discrimination of military personnel.
Employer Violations of USERRA
Even though these protections are in place, there are cases in which employers let go of military personal while they are serving their country. Positions may be eliminated at companies to avoid re-employment upon return from active duty. Similarly, an employee may be let go following return from active duty even though they are perfectly capable of resuming their job.
When employers discriminate against employees who served their country, the employer can face some stiff penalties. When claims are brought against employers, they may be forced to pay lost wages as well as vacation and sick time.
Texas State Protections for State Military Forces
In addition to federal protections, Texas State Government Code Chapter 437 offers additional employment protections for members of the state military force. This includes those in the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard, State Militia (when on active duty), as well as state or federally authorized Urban Search and Rescue Team.
Filing a Claim Against Your Employer
Military personnel who’ve been wrongfully terminated can file a claim through the US Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS). Complaints can be filed at a state level to the Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division.
Consulting an attorney following your termination from a job can help with this process, and help you learn about all of your legal options.
Learn More About Your Legal Options
To learn more about your legal options after being wrongly fired from your job, be sure to contact an experienced wrongful termination attorney today. The team at the Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson is here to help you in your time of legal need.