USERRA: Definition, Rights & Responsibilities

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  • 0:04 What Is USERRA?
  • 0:39 The Right to Reemployment
  • 1:59 Freedom From Discrimination
  • 3:16 Health Insurance Rights
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: LeRon Haire
The lesson discusses the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. It addresses the rights uniformed service members have, along with the responsibilities of their civilian employers.


There are several acronyms, such as DOT and WHO, which are recognizable to many individuals in society. However, the acronym USERRA is one which many people may not be as familiar with. USERRA, or the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, was enacted in 1994 by President Clinton and put in place as a federal law meant to help protect our uniformed military service members and provide rights that they're guaranteed from their civilian employers. Let's take a look at some of the ways that USERRA works to protect our service members.

The Right to Reemployment

To gain a better understanding of the right to reemployment, let's assume that you're a uniformed service member who's currently working for an independent contractor. You've worked for him or her for the past seven years, and you've recently been summoned to fulfill your military obligations. To fulfill these requirements, you'll have to leave your current employer for approximately one year. The right to reemployment makes it impossible and illegal for your civilian employer to deny you access to your former position, even though you were physically removed for a year. USERRA guarantees this right to the service member as long as the service member meets the following criteria:

  • The uniformed service member has five years or less of combined service while with that specific civilian employer.
  • The uniformed service member returns to the previous work in a timely and efficient manner.
  • The uniformed service member has informed their employer with written or verbal notice of the military obligations well in advance of the event.
  • There has been no dishonorable or disqualifying discharge during the time of service.

Each uniformed service member must meet each of these requirements in order to be considered eligible for civilian reemployment. Upon the restoring of the civilian job, the civilian employer is required to allow the member to have the benefits which would have been provided had the service member not been called to leave for duty.

The Right of Freedom From Discrimination

Unfortunately, there may be instances in which an employer or individuals working for an employer feel the need to discriminate against uniformed service members for various reasons. The enactment of USERRA made it an illegal practice for civilian employers to discriminate against members of the armed forces for any unethical or unlawful reason. As with the right to reemployment, the right for our military service members to be free of discrimination is bound by law as long as the following criteria are met:

  • The individual is a former or current member of the uniformed services.
  • The individual has an obligation and a duty to serve in the uniformed services.
  • The individual has applied to become a member of the uniformed services.

As long as these criteria are met, an employer cannot legally deny a uniformed member the following:

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