Very few states have as close a relationship to the military as
Georgia does. In a struggling economy, where every job is precious, veterans have
a great many rights that they may not be aware of under federal employment
law. There are enough of these rights that returning veterans and reservists
may think about consulting with an
employment law attorney before setting off on a job search.
TheUniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (called USERRA and passed in 1994) gives veterans certain job rights that
are not enjoyed by non- veterans. Among those are protections for disabled
veterans, federal employees, vets seeking to go back to their old jobs,
and rights into the continuation of military health care.
A few details:
The total length of time that an individual may be absent from work for
military duty and still retain reemployment rights is five years. There
are some exceptions to the five-year limit, including initial enlistments
lasting more than five years, periodic National Guard and Reserve training
duty, and involuntary active duty extensions and recalls, especially during
a time of national emergency.
USERRA provides protection for disabled veterans, requiring employers to
make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability. Service members
convalescing from injuries received during service or training may have
up to two years from the date of completion of service to return to their
jobs or apply for reemployment.
The law has an “escalator” provision that requires placement
into the job that the veteran would have had or been promoted to except
for military service, and also requires that the vet be trained into that
job. If that isn’t possible, then the law requires that every effort
be made to place the vet into a similar job.
Veterans on duty are to be treated as if they are on a leave of absence
for company benefit purposes. This includes benefits that are tied to
seniority and to non- seniority benefits.
Veterans also have COBRA- like rights in their health coverage for individually
and for their families, up to 24 months. However, the vet would pay more
than 100% of the premium cost.
Like most employment law, this is a highly complex area, since it exists
on the interface between federal law and local employment. For a complete
explanation of your rights under the USERRA, contact an