Need to start filing a complaint with OSC?

File a Complaint

Overview of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), together with other agencies, enforces the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. This video from OSC explains the law and the process for filing a complaint.

View More


Q:Who does USERRA cover?


​USERRA provides employment protections for members of the uniformed services of the United States in their civilian careers. Uniformed services include current, former, and prospective members of: active duty U.S. military, National Guard or Reserves, and certain other services like the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service.

Q:I am a veteran or disabled veteran, does USERRA cover me?


USERRA can cover both veterans and disabled veterans, but it is not the only law that does so. USERRA specifically covers discrimination in employment based on veteran status and with the reemployment of disabled veterans directly following a period of military service. For claims of disability discrimination that do not concern reemployment directly following military service, OSC generally defers to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Also, claims of improper application of veteran’s preference requirements are investigated under the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA), not USERRA, and are handled by the Department of Labor.​​

Q:Who investigates USERRA claims?


​Under the current Demonstration Project, the Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS) investigates all USERRA claims when the employer is a private entity, state government, or local government. If the employer is a federal agency, half of the claims are investigated by the Department of Labor, and half are investigated by the Office of Special Counsel. All USERRA claims must be filed through the Department of Labor, and are then routed to the appropriate investigating agency.​​​​

Q:How long does a USERRA claim take?


USERRA requires that an investigating agency provide a preliminary determination on a USERRA claim within 90 days of the date of filing. However, the investigating agency may obtain an extension from the claimant to go beyond the initial 90-day period. In ​cases where the investigating agency needs to contact the agency or request documentation, an extension is usually requested.​​

Q:I’m going away on military duty, do I need to give copies of my orders to my boss?


While you may certainly provide copies of your military orders (or other orders pertaining to uniformed service) to your employer prior to performing your military duty, you are not required to do so. You are simply required to provide verbal or written notice that the absence is due to military service. If you return to your civilian employment and are reemployed after your military service you may be required by your boss to provide copies of your orders if your military service was for more than 30 days, or if you requested any type of paid leave while on military duty (i.e., annual leave or paid military leave).​​

Q:When I return from military duty, do I have to report to work right away?


​In order to obtain reemployment protections under USERRA when you return from military duty, you must report for work within a specific time period. The length of this time period is determined based on the length of your military duty.

  • If you were on military duty for less than 30 days, you must report to work on the next regularly scheduled business day or shift that you normally work.
    • ​​​USERRA also provides that the service member is entitled to travel time from their place of military duty to their residence, plus 8 hours rest; for example, if an individual works a night shift and their military duty ends at 5:00pm on Monday January 1st, and their next regularly scheduled shift is a night shift at 8:00pm Monday January 1st, that individual would not have to report for that shift, but the next one (8:00pm on Tuesday, January 2nd).
  • ​If you were on military duty from 31 to 180 days, you have to report to work within 14 days of the end of your military duty.
  • If you were on military duty for more than 180 days, you may report to work within 90 days of the end of your military duty.

If an individual does not report within the proper time frame, she may be reemployed, but is subject to discipline by her employer for being absent without leave (AWOL) for the amount of time she was over the reporting period.​

Q:How should my employer have me listed in their payroll system while I am on military duty?


​Employers should place service members in a leave without pay (LWOP) status while they are on military duty, unless the employee has paid leave that they wish to use for any of that time. Ideally, the LWOP entry should indicate that the employee if out for military service, as distinct from other types of LWOP such as a leave of absence or furlough; many employers designate this type of leave as LWOP-US or LWOP-MIL. Employees should not be placed on absent without leave status (AWOL), even pending submission of a copy of their orders.​

Q:I have more questions about USERRA, are there other resources available to me?


​Please see our USERRA information page for more detailed information and links to other resources. If you have a question that is not covered on our website, please call OSC’s USERRA hotline at (202) 804-7003.