For the Guard and Reserve components, a slow economy and not knowing their rights, can easily lead into unemployment after deployment. It is no secret that this country is in a large recession, and jobs are not as easily found as they used to be. This leaves our National Guard and Reservists wondering, “Will I have a job when I get home?”
“I fear each day that my husband will be laid off while he is deployed” says Michelle Lopez, a National Guard wife. “He is due to come home soon and I know that his employer has laid off many workers, due to the recession we are in.” And because of the economy, employer’s can lay off a deployed soldier regardless of their military status. In this case soldiers lose their jobs, and there is not much that can be done about it. But there can be many situations that are not legal, as was the case with Marine wife Stacy Gilbert. “My husband returned from combat a few years ago to find out he had been replaced by another co-worker because they needed someone to cover his shift. So when he reported back, he was told there was no job for him”. Stacy immediately knew something was not right, and contacted their family lawyer. A few days later Stacy’s husband returned back to work, and under USERRA law he was protected.
National Guard and Reserve components have been deploying ever since the attacks on September 11, 2001, and the number of deployed service members has been growing ever since. As of today, there are a total of 134,509 National Guard and Reserve soldiers active. And many of these soldiers are returning home only to find out they have been laid off. So what can we do to ensure these soldiers are protected and know their employment rights?
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
As a spouse of the Armed Forces, we should all be aware of what USSERRA is and what it covers. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protects service members’ reemployment rights when returning from a period of service in the uniformed services. This is especially for Reserves or National Guard. This law prohibits employer discrimination based on military service or obligation. If you have to leave your civilian job due to your military obligation, under USERRA you have the right to be reemployed once you have returned. For more information on USERRA, please visit the Department of Labor.
It is very important for service members to know their rights in the case that they are left unemployed when returning from a deployment. Talk to your spouse about USERRA, and ensure that they are well aware of the situations that they are covered under.
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR)
The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense organization that dedicates to promoting awareness between the Reserve component, and their civilian employers. They also handle employee and employer conflicts that may arise during the soldier’s deployment or military commitment. Most importantly they ensure that each member of the Reserve or Guard is aware of their rights and employment laws that protect their employment. The ESGR also briefs and educated the civilian employer’s on the USERRA act as well as why it is important to maintain jobs and hire Reserve and Guard.
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