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Veterans Have a Right to Reemployment after Deployment

In the United States, and in Oregon, "At Will" employment is the rule of the day unless you happen to make up part of the 9% of the American workforce who are members of labor unions.

Unlike unionized employees, "At Will" employment means you may be terminated from your job without cause as long as it's not for a discriminatory reason like being a member of a protected class of persons.

Most of us are familiar with the basic groups that are considered protected classes for purposes of employment discrimination. For instance, an employer cannot terminate you because of your race, sexual orientation, age or disability.

But many people may not know that service in the armed forces is also a protected class for purposes of employment discrimination. As the Oregon Department of Justice recently stated on their website:

It is unlawful to discriminate against service members in the workplace. Whether you have decided to enlist, are on active duty or have served in the past, if an employer denies you employment, retention in employment, promotion or accrued seniority or benefits because of your association with uniformed service, it may be employment discrimination.

Furthermore, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides that service members who left civilian jobs for military deployments have the right to return the same seniority, status, pay, and other rights and benefits, including promotions based on seniority, they would have had, if not for their military absence.

USERRA also bestows upon some service members an exception to at-will employment. This means that many service members returning to their civilian jobs after a deployment may only be terminated for just cause. Depending on the length of service leave, USERRA prohibits an employer from terminating an employee following reemployment except for "just cause," even if the employee is otherwise an at-will employee. If a service member is returning from a military service of 31-180 days the service member is entitled to a just cause termination for a period of six months following reemployment. Periods of service or deployment greater than 180 days require just cause for termination for a period of one year following reemployment.

If you are an active or former service member with questions about your employment rights under USERRA or otherwise, contact an employment discrimination lawyer at Angel Law, P.C..
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