When the Troops Come Marching Home: Expansion of Employer Obligations and Employee Rights Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and Related Statutes

The Ritz Carlton Buckhead3434 Peachtree Road NE
Plaza I
Atlanta, GA 30326

Every employer wants to honor the rights of their "citizen soldier" employees who are called up for military service. But faced with broad legal mandates, as well as uncertainty over the future military obligations of many serving and returning employees, particularly in light of anticipated changes under the administration of President-Elect Obama, doing "the right thing" often presents a daunting challenge. To borrow from military jargon, consider these facts on the ground:
·         Since the 9/11 attacks, more than 660,000 members of the National Guard and reserve units have been mobilized for military action, including those sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 400,000 have been released from active duty.
·         There are currently about 146,000 troops serving in Iraq and another 37,000 troops in Afghanistan.
·         Complicating matters, many employees have served longer than was initially expected, as military commitments have been extended.  Moreover, a number of employees who have returned to work have been reactivated for repeated tours of duty.
·         It is ever easier for an employee to file a USERRA complaint; USERRA complaints can now be submitted through the Internet.
·         The recently published FMLA regulations cannot be overlooked.  The FMLA regulations, published in November 2008, become effective on January 16, 2009 and have implications for employers whose employees are family members of persons in the military.
·         And, as if USERRA did not cause enough confusion and concern to employers, many states have their own laws giving employees on military leave broader rights than they have under the federal statute and its implementing Regulations.
Faced with these realities, many employers are having a difficult time juggling their legal obligations to employees before, during and after their return from military leave with the demands of their businesses.
Employers will need a compliance program that is both legally sound and business-sensitive.  In this briefing, EBG attorneys will:
·         De-mystify USERRA and clearly outline the rights and obligations of both employers and employees on military leave.
·         Discuss how to handle re-employment of workers in the event of troop withdrawal under the administration of President-Elect Obama.
·         Determine whether a returning service member is entitled to be reemployed, and if so, to what position and benefits.
·         Explain the obligations to and the special rules regarding employees who have been disabled while on military leave, with consideration of the 2008 EEOC guidelines concerning the hiring and employment of veterans with service-related disabilities, and provide a discussion of how to accommodate an employee who returns disabled, contrasting USERRA obligations with those of the ADA.
·         Untangle USERRA's knotty health and pension provisions, and provide specific guidelines detailing the statute's notice and contribution requirements.
·         Explain how changes in the USERRA Regulations and the Family and Medical Leave Act may require revision of your current compliance program.
·         Explore practical strategies for meeting your business needs consistent with your legal obligations.

We look forward to seeing you there!