If you work in New Mexico and serve in the state or National Guard or reserves, you might have to leave your private sector job for military service. If you are called to active duty, you might be absent from your civilian job for months. But while you are gone, a federal law called the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects your job. New Mexico law provides additional protections.
USERRA, a federal law, 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, too. 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.)
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 New Mexico and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the U.S. military, you are protected by USERRA.
New Mexico law also protects those who need leave for military duty. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard, or organized reserve may take unpaid leave for military service. An employee is entitled to reinstatement following service, or following up to one year of hospitalization after discharge from service, to the same or a similar position. An employee must request reinstatement within 90 days of discharge or release from hospitalization. Once reinstated, an employee may not be fired without cause for one year.
New Mexico also prohibits discrimination against employees because of their membership in the National Guard. Employers may not prevent employees from performing military service.
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 New Mexico 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.