Posted on May 6, 2019
MAJ Ile Instructor
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I'm struggling to get my current employer to support my service in the USAR. No violations of USERRA yet (that I know of) but they made it clear in my otherwise stellar annual review that I am out of office too much for "military stuff". I quickly countered as over the last 12 calendar months I have only technically missed 5 work days for AT, and have taken less than what we are allowed for vacation over that same time period.

I know that per USERRA they cannot count my AT days as vacation, yet they are also under no obligation to pay me for that time either. I offered this as a potential way to resolve this issue, to which they said it is not a pay issue as much as just a matter of time as we are a very small firm (4.5 employees) so when any one of us is gone it significantly impacts our operations.

I feel very strongly about this topic for a number of reasons - 15 year of service so far and am of course planning to stay until at least 20. I have made choices in my Reserve service to try to dial back to less demanding roles so I could focus more on my primary career and family etc. One of the main reasons I am even able to work for such a small firm (with very limited benefits) is due to having access to Tricare Reserve Select. Our firm was founded by a West Point grad, one of our owners is a grad (who was also in the Guard at one point), I'm a grad and I'd say 1/3 of our clients have a military background so this is hypocritical in my opinion.

Any thoughts on how to handle this - specifically from those in a similar situation (i.e. small private company)? I'd prefer not to file a dispute with ESGR if possible, or at least not yet.
Edited 2 y ago
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Responses: 1
SGT Dave Tracy
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Well, if you're not willing to bring ESGR in (one of their strengths is in areas of education for employers, not just confrontation), I don't know what to tell you, other than to document all issues you're having in case things go south. Working for Uncle Sam gave me a measure of cover when I was in the Reserves, but I knew many a soldier who found themselves on the short-end of the stick with their civilian employer, regardless of USERRA.

Good luck.
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MAJ Ile Instructor
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Thanks SGT Dave Tracy - I may end up using ESGR to mediate the dispute informally but want to give the situation more time to develop first to make sure I'm not jumping the gun.
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