If you work in Wisconsin 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. Wisconsin law provides similar protections for those in the state’s military forces.
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.)
Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the U.S. military, you are protected by USERRA.
Employees in Wisconsin who enlist, are inducted, or are ordered to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces for 90 days or more, or civilian employees who are asked to perform national defense work during an officially proclaimed emergency, may take leave for military service and/or training. Wisconsin employees who are called to state active duty in the National Guard of Wisconsin or any other state, or called to active service with the state laboratory of hygiene during a public health emergency, are also entitled to take military leave.
Upon completion of military leave, employees are entitled to reinstatement to their prior position or to one with equivalent seniority, status, and pay. A reinstated employee may not be discharged without cause for up to one year.
Wisconsin law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their 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 Wisconsin 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.