If you are a member of the state or national Guard or Reserves, you most likely have two jobs: a regular gig in the private sector and temporary stints in the military. If you are called to active duty, your military service could stretch out for months. But while you are gone, federal and state laws protect your job rights.
Federal Law: USERRA
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that protects employees who need time off for military service. USERRA is one of the most protective employee rights laws on the books. It prohibits discrimination against employees who are in the military or take leave to serve in the military. But it goes much farther than that: It also 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.)
Alabama 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 Alabama and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Alabama law also protects employees who are called to state active duty in the Alabama Guard. Under Alabama Code sections 31-12-1 through 31-12-4, Alabama National Guard members who are called to active state duty for at least 30 consecutive days or called for federally funded duty for service (other than training) have the same leave and reinstatement rights and benefits provided by USERRA. These protections don’t extent to time off for normal annual training, weekend drills, and required schools, however.
If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your military service, or you have been denied the rights available to you under USERRA or Alabama state 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.