If you work in New York 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 York law provides additional protections.
Federal Law: USERRA
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.)
New York 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 New York and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the U.S. military, you are protected by USERRA.
New York law also protects those who need leave for military duty. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or organized militia may take unpaid leave for active service, reserve drills or annual training, service school, or initial full-time or active duty training. Once completing military service or training, an employee must be reinstated to his or her former position or to one with the same seniority, status, and pay. Employees must apply for reinstatement within 90 days of discharge from active service; within ten days of completing service school, reserve duties, or annual training; or within 60 days of completing initial full-time or active duty training. Once reinstated, an employee may not be discharged within one year without cause.
New York also prohibits discrimination against employees who are subject to state or federal military duty.
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 York 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.