If you work in Vermont 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. Vermont law provides similar protections.
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.)
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 Vermont and you need time off for service in one of these branches of the U.S. military, you are protected by USERRA.
Under Vermont law, employees who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces reserves, an organized unit of the National Guard, or the ready reserves may take up to 15 days of leave per year for military drills, training, or other temporary duty under military authority. Once an employee has completed his or her military training or temporary duty, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to his or her former position, with the same status, pay, and seniority (including seniority that accrued during the leave of absence).
Members of the Vermont National Guard who are ordered to state active duty by the Governor are entitled to take unpaid leave from their civilian jobs. These employees may not be required to exhaust their vacation time or other accrued leave.
Vermont also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their membership in the state or federal National Guard.
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 Vermont 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.