Employees who are members of the National Guard, Reserves, or militia most likely have two jobs: a position in the private sector and a position in the military. If you are called to active duty, you might be absent from your civilian job for months. But while you are gone, federal and Georgia laws protect your job rights.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
Employees who need time off work for military service are protected by USERRA, a federal law. USERRA 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.)
Georgia 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 Georgia and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Georgia law protects employees who are members of the Georgia National Guard or the federal Armed Forces. These employees are entitled to unlimited unpaid leave if called to active state or federal service. Once their service is complete, these employees must be reinstated with full benefits. (Employees must apply for reinstatement within 90 days of discharge.)
These employees are also entitled to take up to six months of leave in any four-year period to attend annual training or service school. An employee must apply for reinstatement within ten days of completing school or training.
Georgia law also prohibits discrimination against members of the U.S. reserves or the state organized militia. Any employee who is discharged or suspended because of such membership is eligible for reinstatement.
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 Georgia 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.