Military Service and Employment

CAN MY EMPLOYER GIVE MY JOB AWAY WHILE I AM SERVING IN THE MILITARY?

 

No.  Under both federal law and Connecticut state law an employer cannot give away the job of someone who is serving in the military.  Additionally, once an employee returns from the military, the employer must reinstate the employee to the position that he or she left, regardless of whether there is a vacancy or the position has been filled.
Under the federal law, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301-4333, a person who leaves a civilian job for voluntary or involuntary services in the military is entitled to reemployment if he or she meets the following criteria:
· The person left his or her job for the purpose of performing military service
· Must have given prior oral or written notice to the employer (although there is no specific requirement on how far in advance notice must be given)
· The period of service cannot have exceeded five years (although all involuntary service is exempt from this requirement)
· Cannot have received anything a punitive or other-than-honorable discharge
· Must report back to work in a timely manner, or have submitted a timely application for reemployment (the requirements for timeliness differ depending on the length of service) USERRA also requires that if returning service members meet these requirements, they be re-employed in the job they would have attained if they had not been absent for military service (or a comparable job) with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority.
Under both USERRA and Connecticut law, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual based on his or her military status.  Under Connecticut statute § 27-33a, an employer must allow an individual who, as part of his or her military service, is required to attend military reserve or National Guard meetings or drills during regular working hours to take a leave of absence for that purpose.  Additionally, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-571 prohibits discrimination against members of the armed forces or individuals wearing a uniform of armed forces.  USERRA imposes similar requirements on employers.
If your employer does discriminate against you based on your military status, you are entitled to bring a civil lawsuit to enforce your rights and may be awarded money damages and attorneys fees by a court.
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