Returning soldiers shouldn't have to fight for their USERRA rights

This past summer, President Obama announced that he will pull 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. And now, he is declaring that virtually all U.S. troops (approximately 39,000) will be returning from Irag by year's end, too.

“After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” Obama said. “The coming months will be a season of homecomings. Our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”

Home for the holidays ... and re-entering the workforce. With thousands of veterans stepping back into the work world, employers need to ready themselves for the impact this activity will have on their business.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is the primary federal law that provides employment and reemployment rights for members of the uniformed services, including veterans and members of the Reserve and National Guard. You can read more about USERRA here, but the main points to remember are:

=> USERRA requires employers to reinstate employees upon completion of service

=> USERRA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees in regard to hiring, firing, promotion, training or any other terms of employment based on past, present or future military service.

=> When a service member returns from active duty of five years or less, that individual is entitled to any increases in seniority, promotions, pay and benefits that would have been received had he or she never left -- a legal concept known as the “escalator principle”


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