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 State Laws

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) was enacted in 1994.[1] Under USERRA, a person who leaves a civilian job (federal, state, local, or private sector) for voluntary or involuntary service in the uniformed services is entitled to reemployment in the civilian job and to be treated (upon reemployment) as if he or she had been continuously employed during the period of service.[2] USERRA does not require the civilian employer to pay the individual for an hour, day, week, month, or year that the individual is away from work for service. 

USERRA establishes a floor and not a ceiling on rights granted to employees leaving civilian jobs to serve in the uniformed services.[3] Section 4302(a) provides that USERRA does not override or supersede any state law, local ordinance, collective bargaining agreement (CBA), contract, or employer policy that provides greater or additional rights to service members. Section 4302(b) does provide, however, that USERRA supersedes any state law, local ordinance, CBA, contract, or employer policy limiting the rights granted under USERRA. The federal government, 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico have all gone above the floor set by USERRA, and provided their employees with paid military leave. There is considerable state-to-state variation as to who qualifies for paid leave and what they qualify for.

 As a service to Reserve and National Guard members, we have posted a compilation of the individual states' laws concerning military leave for public employees. These laws run the gamut from generous to stingy. We are also adding new subsections dealing with state laws that protect National Guard members when they are performing state active duty, state laws that give military spouses and family members the right to time off from their own civilian jobs for military-related functions, state laws that provide preference in state and local government employment to veterans, etc. 

 These articles should be considered as a guide; the information provided through this service is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, please consult a licensed attorney in your state.   – Gavriel Swerling[4]

[1] USERRA is an update of the Veterans’ Reemployment Rights Act, which dates from 1940.

[2] Please see Law Review 1281 for a summary of the conditions the person must meet to be reemployed.

[4] This section added by Gavriel Swerling, an ROA Service Members Law Center Associate. He is in his third year at the University Of Maryland School Of Law and is a First Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve.  After he graduates from law school and passes the Maryland bar exam, he will go on active duty in the Marine Corps, as a judge advocate, for at least four years.  Thank you to RADM James J. Carey and the Washington Scholars for sending him our way.

*The views expressed in this article do not represent the Maryland Law School or the Marine Corps.