News and Press Releases

CONTACT: 919/856-4530

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Wednesday - July 9, 2003

RALEIGH - At a news conference in Raleigh on Wednesday, July 9, 2003, United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney said that all employers of individuals who are with the National Guard or Reserves should be aware of their obligations and their employees' rights under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). "Under various laws of the United States," he said, "soldiers who are called upon to serve have certain protections in both their employment and in their financial affairs. These laws also serve to assist in protecting the families of service personnel from some financial hardships during the time of a family member's deployment."

USA Whitney stated that there are approximately 1.35 million Guard and Reservists in the United States, who serve their country with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. Due to the presence of nine active military installations in the Eastern District of North Carolina, a disproportionate number of Guard and Reservists live and work in North Carolina.

USERRA is a federal law that applies to all employers, no matter how many employees they may have. This law prohibits discrimination against employees as a result of their service to our country. This law also intends to minimize the disruption that such service may cause both employees and employers.

USA Whitney said that under USERRA, National Guard personnel or Reservists must not be denied initial employment or reemployment upon return from service, promotion, or any benefit of employment on the basis of their membership or obligation in the uniformed service, including during a period of war or national emergency.

USA Whitney said, "As all of us well know, the citizen soldier has been ready on-call to leave home and protect our nation since the founding of our Republic. Although the United States has the greatest standing military force in the world today, that force cannot accomplish its mission of protecting liberty without the support and augmentation of citizen soldiers, whether from the Army or Air National Guard or from the Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, or Coast Guard Reserve. When citizen soldiers leave their families and civilian employment to protect our liberty, we have an obligation to them to protect their legal rights."

In an effort to publicize those rights, the U. S. Attorney's Office has prepared a handbook, entitled "Employment Rights of the National Guard and Reserve." The handbook summarizes and explains in plain language the legal rights of citizen soldiers under three federal statutes: the Uniformed Services Employment and
Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA); the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act (SSCRA); and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

According to USA Whitney, the handbook (in hard copy or CD format) may be obtained by contacting his office at 919/856-4530, or by visiting the U. S. Attorney's web page atwww.usdoj.gov/usao/nce. Additional sites for related information include: www.esgr.org (The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR)) and www.dol.gov/vets (The U. S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS)).

USA Whitney was joined at the news conference by various ranking officials representing the Army and Air National Guard; the Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Coast Guard Reserves; the U. S. Department of Labor/VETS; and the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney's web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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