With more veterans returning from active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, remember this important point: under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), service members are entitled to reinstatement as if they never left for deployment.
That right includes raises, seniority and allowance for promotions that would have occurred if they had not been deployed.
Recent case: Forrest Bagnall, a project engineer for the city of Sunrise, Fla., also served as an officer in the Army Reserve. He went on active duty for four years. Then he informed the city he wanted to exercise his USERRA re-employment rights.
The city offered Bagnall a different job that paid less than he’d been earning when he left. It also had fewer responsibilities. For example, he would no longer supervise subordinates.
Bagnall sued, alleging the new job did not comply with the USERRA.
The court agreed. It said he was entitled to reinstatement to an equivalent job, along with any raises or promotions he would have earned if he had never left. (Bagnall v. City of Sunrise, No. 10-61299, SD FL, 2011)
What’s an equivalent job? One with the same opportunities for advancement, working conditions, job location, shift assignment, rank, responsibility and geographic location that the service member would have had if he or she never left.
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