Military Law

Veterans' Reemployment - Changes in the Employer

Did you leave a civilian job to serve in the military? Have you been discharged and are now seeking employment? As a veteran, you may have a right of reemployment to your old job.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) was passed by the federal government to allow veterans to return to their old jobs after their service. You have a reemployment right if you follow the requirements under the USERRA. These requirements include informing your employer about your military service and reporting back to work in a timely manner. However, there are certain exceptions that'll protect employers from this right.

Changes in the Employer's Environment

When you return from serving in the military, your employer may have a different work environment. Employers must adjust with the times in order to compete in the marketplace. This may mean that the organizational structure, service or product has changed. It may make it difficult to even recognize your former employer.

Will you fit into this new environment? Under the USERRA, you're entitled to return to your employer if your service time doesn't exceed five years. However, your employer doesn't have to rehire you if the circumstances have changed so much that your reemployment would be impossible or unreasonable.

For circumstances to be unreasonable, they must be greater than mere inconvenient or undesirable. Even if your employer got rid of your old position doesn't necessarily mean it's off the hook. You can still be reemployed to another position in most cases. Every situation is different and will depend on a variety of factors.

Downturn in Economic Conditions

The health of the economy can really affect an employer. When the economy is doing poorly, it may have to downsize the business. Poor economic conditions can be a legitimate basis for making your reemployment unreasonable.

Employers will many times reduce their workforce during the tough times. Unfortunately, this reduction can also include you. When there's a downturn in the economy, everyone, including veterans, can have a tough time finding work.

Undue Hardship to the Employer

When you return to work, the qualifications for your old job may have changed. The job may now require a higher level of expertise. Your employer must make reasonable accommodations for you. Any training you need for your job must also be provided. However, there's a limit to how much effort your employer will have to make.

Your employer doesn't have to rehire you if it would impose an undue hardship. If you can't become qualified for the job after reasonable efforts, your employer doesn't have to make extraordinary efforts to help you become qualified. Whether the efforts will cause an undue hardship on your employer will depend on the circumstances of your specific situation.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What are the benefits of having an attorney help me to apply for reemployment?
  • How do I prove that my reemployment isn't impossible or unreasonable for my employer?
  • Can I take educational or training courses on my own if asking my employer to provide them would cause an undue hardship?
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