Maryland 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, Maryland and federal laws protect your job rights.
Federal Law: USERRA
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (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.)
Maryland Laws 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 Maryland and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Maryland law extends the rights afforded by USERRA to members of the state National Guard and the Maryland Defense Force who are ordered to military duty.
In addition, Maryland employers with 15 or more employees must allow employees who have been employed for at least 90 days to take at least 15 days off each year to respond to an emergency mission of the Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. Employees must give as much notice as possible of their need for this leave. After arriving at the emergency location, employees must notify their employer and estimate how long the mission will take. Employees are entitled to reinstatement upon their return from this type of leave. Employers may not penalize employees for exercising their rights under this law, nor may they retaliate against employees who complain that an employer has violated the law.
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 Maryland 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.