May 01, 2014

Reserve Officers Association

With Memorial Day approaching, the time is ripe for employers to bone up on their duties under federal laws that affect the employment of U.S. military veterans returning from active service.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act lays out a number of obligations for employers when they bring back on board employees who left their jobs for military service. As long as certain conditions are met, the law requires employers to rehire employees who return from a period of active duty of up to five years and who apply for re-employment when they come back.

While there are some limits on USERRA's reach — for one, employees returning from a period of active military duty have only a certain amount of time to apply for re-employment, based on how long they spent in the service — attorneys say it is one of the strongest federal employment laws on the books.

“From an employer's perspective, USERRA is one of the most robust anti-discrimination, positive-obligation-to-accommodate statutes that there is,” said James H. Fowles III, a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC and retired U.S. Navy Reservecommander.

Here, experts explain some of USERRA's key aspects.