What are rights of reservists?

I was away from work for a month serving in the Army Reserves. My employer said it was OK for me to go and that they supported me. They asked me to check in weekly by email, and I did. When I returned to work after a month things were very different; they had changed my job. Also, I was told that, while I was away, a coworker had given the supervisor a heads-up that I had said something that made her uncomfortable, but that there was no complaint (I was never told what I allegedly said). I was terminated the next day for contacting the employee that had made the non-complaint even though I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to.

Posted 10-13-2015

Ann Kiernan replies:

I see two problems here. One: Employees taking a military leave are entitled to be reinstated, either to their old jobs or to equivalent positions. So, unless the job would have changed anyway in the time you were gone, you were entitled to reinstatement into your old job. Two: If you were on active duty for more than 30 days, you cannot be fired except for cause, which means that that it would be reasonable to discharge you for the conduct in question, and that you had notice that the conduct would constitute cause for discharge.

The Department of Defense has a free mediation service for reservists who have disputes with their civilian employers related to their military service. You can call 1-800-336-4590 (select option 1) between 8 AM and 6 PM EST (M-F) or submit a USERRA Support Request. Good luck, and thank you for your service.

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.

2016-11-18T16:00:34+00:00

About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.