Minnesota employees who are also members of the state or National Guard or reserves might have to leave their regular civilian jobs for military service. If you are called to active duty, you might be absent from your private sector job for months. But while you are gone, a federal law called the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects your job. And, Minnesota law protects you from discrimination based on your military service or affiliation.
Federal Law: USERRA
USERRA is a federal law that 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.)
Minnesota 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 Minnesota and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the military, you are protected by USERRA.
Many states provide USERRA-like protections for members of the state militia or other state military service. Minnesota is not one of them, however. Minnesota law does prohibit employers from discharging an employee because of his or her military service, interfering with an employee’s military service, or dissuading an employee from enlisting by threatening the employee’s job. This protection applies whether the employee belongs to or wants to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces, the Minnesota military or naval forces, or the military or naval forces of any other state.
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 Minnesota 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.