Deployment and Re-Employment Problems: What To Do When You Return to a Lesser Job Position

Men and women who serve the United States as members of the uniformed services often experience employment discrimination after returning from deployment. Although the law is clear that employers provide a similarly situated position to returning employees, many re-employed soldiers end up in a position lower than their original job. This is illegal.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA) protects the employment and reemployment of soldiers. USERRA includes the employment rights of future, present, and past soldiers. Employers who fail to uphold USERRA face potential lawsuit.

Uniformed Services:

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Marine Corps
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • Army National Guard
  • Air National Guard
  • Public Health Service commissioned corps
  • The Reserves

Reemployment Rights

When a soldier returns from any type of military service, whether training or deployment, the employer is obligated to offer the returning military service member a job equal in pay and position. Moreover, the returning soldier should receive any additional benefits that he or she would have received if you hadn’t left for service. USERRA offers soldier the right to reemployment if they meet the following requirements:

  • Give employer advanced notice of service
  • Return to work or apply for reemployment in a timely manner after returning from service
  • Not separated from the military with less than an honorable discharge or other non-qualifying condition
  • Less than five years away from work
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Protection from Discrimination and Retaliation

The law prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against future or current employees who are members of the uniformed services. USERRA protects uniformed service members from retaliation for seeking their rights. Employers cannot discriminate against soldiers in the following areas.

  • Initial employment
  • Reemployment
  • Retention in your employment
  • Promotion
  • Any benefit of employment

Although wronged employees are encouraged to file a complaint with the Department of Labor, filing a private lawsuit is also an option. Contact an employment lawyer for pursuing your best legal option.

Real Life Examples of Reemployment Gone Wrong

Blake returned from deployment in the Middle East to his previous employer. Instead of returning to his senior-level position, Blake was given a job below his original position in pay and seniority. Part of his original employment with this company included annual bonuses, but he has not received any. Meanwhile, Blake also suspects that he is actually training his manager since the person in the position has never held this role before. During his interview to receive this current job position, Blake recalls that he was asked how long he’d be gone for the next deployment. Blake is concerned that he is facing a hostile work environment due to his military service.

Dan, a high-end account manager, left his job and served the United States for two years of deployment. When he returned to work, all of his accounts had been given to other coworkers to manage. He basically had to start over in his job and work hard to regain the ground he’d lost while serving the USA. His employer refused to reinstate his seniority and high-end accounts. Dan thinks that his employer doesn’t want to have to deal with the difficulty if Dan’s deployed again. Meanwhile, Dan suffers for serving his country.

Both of these men don’t deserve to be treated like this by their employer for their military service. In fact, the government clearly protects soldiers from discrimination in their jobs for having served their country. Employers who fail to provide returning soldiers with jobs equal to their roles in the company before deployment are subject to the law.

File An USERRA Complaint

Once an USERRA violation is recognized, one option to pursue your rights is to file an USERRA complaint. After investigation and analysis by the Department of Labor, most employees are encouraged to seek mediation or an informal resolution of the problem. But if the mediation doesn’t resolve the issue, the complaint can be carried towards a trial.

The goal of the law is to protect the employment rights of workers. Therefore, help the law protect you by knowing your rights. An employment lawyer can guide you through the legal process and enhance the benefits you might receive under the law.

1. Fill out a VETS-1010 form.

When filling out the VETS-1010 form, detail exactly what rights your employer violated. This is not the time for being vague or dishonest. You must be clear about what you want from your employer and the government.

2. Submit according to the instructions on the form.

Review your VETS-1010 form to be sure that all contact information for yourself and your employer are correct. The form also outlines the options for submitting your paperwork. It is usually acceptable for you to submit the form via mail, hand delivery, fax, or online.

3. Your complaint is investigated.

The Department of Labor, Veterans Employment & Training Service (DOL-VETS) receives the form and investigates the complaint that you brought against your employer. Furthermore, it’s illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for filing a complaint. File another complaint with your original filed form if you experience retaliation for your original complaint.

4. Resolve the complaint via mediation.

DOL-VETS prefers that employers and employees resolve the problem through mediation or a similar interactive process rather than going all the way to court. It’s important to know that the mediator is just a neutral party and does not advise either party. During a mediation, you want to have an employment lawyer to ensure that you receive what you want.

5. Choose representation and file a private lawsuit.

If you didn’t have legal counsel up to this point, now is definitely the time to seek an employment lawyer. A private lawsuit must be filed with the Office of Special Counsel or the U.S. Department of Justice. Each specializes in different types of cases, and a lawyer will know who to file your lawsuit under. Help ensure the success of your lawsuit by choosing to work with a lawyer on pursuing your rights under the law.


If you were deployed and reemployed into a lesser job than before you left, contact an employment lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an attorney: (412) 626-5626 or