Military Law

Effect of Changes on Employer USERRA Obligations

Are you an employer that has employees with military experience? Employers have legal obligations under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). These obligations apply to both employment and reemployments rights of veterans. However, certain changes in circumstances can have an effect on these obligations.

Obligations Under the USERRA

There are numerous rights under the USERRA that are granted to veterans. Some of the most important are:

  • The right of veterans to be reemployed
  • The right of veterans to be free from discrimination
  • The right of veterans to be free from retaliation

A veteran has to meet certain conditions to be given the right to reemployment. If these conditions are met, you're obligated to give him a job when his military service is finished. He's also entitled to raises and benefits as if he remained continuously employed by you.

Changes in Your Work Environment

It may be a number of years until your former employee returns to work. The structure and method of your business may have changed during this time. Technology may be more advanced and require a greater level of expertise. You aren't required to reemploy a veteran if your circumstances have changed so much that reemployment is impossible or unreasonable.

Every work situation is unique and different. You'll have to judge what's impossible or unreasonable. However, you should make every effort to reemploy a veteran. A lawsuit can be brought against you under the USERRA for any violations. Mere inconvenience doesn't get you off the hook.

Changes in the Economy

Most businesses are affected by the health of the economy. When there's a downturn, you may have to reduce your business. This can involve letting employees go.

A slight downturn in the economy won't make it unreasonable to reemploy a veteran. You're still required to rehire him. However, the situation may change if your business is hurt dramatically by the bad economy. Reemployment could be considered unreasonable or impossible in that situation.

Changes that Cause an Undue Hardship

You're required to provide reasonable accommodations to veterans to help them fit into the work environment. Training must also be provided to help with job duties. However, there's a limit to your obligations.

You aren't required to rehire an employee if it'll impose an undue hardship. You only have to make reasonable efforts, not extraordinary ones. Whether your efforts will cause an undue hardship will depend on the circumstances of your specific situation.

Termination of the Job Position

Job positions are adjusted for a variety of reasons. Sometimes positions are terminated while new ones are created. There's a chance that a veteran's job position will be terminated before he returns from the military.

You're usually obligated to reemploy a veteran even if his job no longer exists. The new job needs to be of a similar status and pay to the old job. However, you don't have to reemploy a veteran if it's unreasonable or will impose an undue hardship.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What are the benefits of having an attorney help me rehire employees with military service?
  • Do I have to rehire a veteran if he received a disability during his military service?
  • How much money is considered "reasonable" to spend on training and accommodations?
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