Kentucky employees who are also members of the state or National Guard or reserves might have to leave their regular civilian jobs for military service. If you are called to active duty, you might be absent from your private sector job for months. But while you are gone, federal and state laws protect your job rights.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
USERRA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against employees who are in the U.S. Armed Forces, have served in the military, or take leave to serve in the military.
USERRA provides valuable additional protections as well. It requires employers to reinstate employees who take up to five years off for military service, with all of the promotions, raises, and other benefits they would have received had they worked through their time off. And, it prohibits employers from firing employees without cause for up to one year after they return from service. (For more information on USERRA, see Taking Military Leave.)
Kentucky Laws Protecting Employees on Military Leave
USERRA protects employees who serve in the United States military, including those who serve in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Reserves, Army or Air National Guard, and Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service. If you work in Kentucky and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Kentucky law also protects employees who are members of the state’s military forces. Members of the state National Guard are entitled to take leave for active duty or training, and to reinstatement to their former positions, with no loss of seniority or benefits, when they return to work.
Kentucky law also prohibits employers from using threats to prevent employees from enlisting in the Kentucky National Guard or active militia. Discrimination against employees who are already members of the state Guard or militia is also prohibited.
If you have faced discrimination because of your military service, or you have been denied the reinstatement and other rights available to you under USERRA or Kentucky law, check out servicemembers.gov, the Department of Justice's website devoted to enforcing USERRA and other laws that protect the rights of those who serve in the military. You'll also find helpful information at the website of Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve.