Posted on February 8, 2012

Understanding USERRA: A Quick Guide

It’s important for employers to understand the legal responsibilities of companies who employ individuals who have fought for our country. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination of employees or applicants due to their military service.

USERRA is a very detailed and complex law that covers many aspects of a service member’s employment with an organization. We have summarized the key points for you:

  • It is illegal to discriminate an employee on hiring, retention, promotion, reemployment or benefits based on involvement in military service.
  • Employers must offer up to 24 months of continuous health plan coverage to service members once they begin their military leave.
  • An employee on military leave must receive the highest level of benefits provided to employees who take other types of leave.
  • An employee’s obligation to the uniformed service trumps the obligation to the employer.

USERRA also outlines that the uniformed service is a super protected class. While there are many protected classes in the United States, the uniformed service receives extra, unique benefits through USERRA. These benefits include the following:

  • USERRA applies to all employers, even an employer of just one employee.
  • There is no deadline for a service member to file a lawsuit against a company because of a discriminatory act based on their service.
  • Service members who are 40 years and older are covered under USERRA and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Please visit the Department of Labor’s information guide of USERRA to learn more.