Don’t Delay in Returning Military Servicemembers to Jobs

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Congress passed the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) to protect employees who also are past or present members of the uniformed services, such as members of the military reserves. The statute requires private employers to promptly reemploy individuals who have taken time away from their work to serve in the military.

What “promptly” means was the subject of a recent decision by the Richmond-based U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose decisions apply to employers in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina.

Facts

Thomas Harwood, a U.S. Air Force Reserve member, was a civilian pilot for American Airlines. After his reserve Air Force military service, he sought to return to his airline job. Because of a medical condition he had developed, however, he lacked the necessary Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clearance to fly. He applied to the FAA for a waiver, but the airline refused to return him as a pilot until the waiver was approved.

About 2 months after Harwood was to have returned to work, American identified an alternative position at the same pay rate as an active pilot. The company, however, took 6 weeks to offer him the alternate job as well as an extension of his military leave while he continued to seek the waiver.

Harwood declined both options and spent a few additional months on active duty with the Air Force. About five months after his original deployment ended, he accepted the alternative position before subsequently obtaining a waiver from the FAA clearing him to fly. The day after he received the waiver, American reassigned him to a pilot’s role…

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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