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The economy is recovering, but for many, finding that right job is just as tough as ever. For National Guard and Reserve service members, not knowing their rights can lead into unemployment after serving their country. Warriors shouldn’t have to wonder, “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.” Employers may not be laying off in the numbers they were just a couple of years ago, but that doesn’t help a family whose service member comes home to no job. But often, the federal government has implemented protections for Guard and Reservists that may protect them from unexpected job loss.
there can be many situations that are not legal, as was the case with . “My husband returned from combat a few years ago to find out he had been replaced by another co-worker because they needed someone to cover his shift,” Marine wife Stacy Gilbert told Veteran Journal. “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 under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) that protected his job while he was deployed.
As the wars wind down, fewer service members may find themselves in a similar situation, but National Guard and Reserve components were heavily deployed after the attacks on September 11, 2001. As of last August, there were approximately 51,000 active duty National Guard and Reserve soldiers. Since 9/11, over 880,000 were mobilized. Many of these soldiers returned home only to find out they have been laid off.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
USERRA protects service members’ reemployment rights when returning from a period of service in the uniformed services. This is especially true 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.
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR)
Another protection is the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense organization dedicated to raising awareness to employers of the rights of Guard and Reserve members. ESGR also handles potential conflicts that may arise during deployment or military service. Perhaps the biggest challenge they help with is ensuring that every member of the Reserve or Guard is aware of his or her rights about employment laws and federal protections. ESGR reaches out to the civilian world to brief and educate employer’s on the USERRA act and to teach the importance of hiring and retaining Reserve and Guard employees.
Image courtesy of www.news9.com/story/20237368/guard-aims-to-curb-unemployment-rate…