Because Florida is an at-will employment state, claims alleging wrongful termination must fit within specific legal parameters to qualify as such and reach a successful conclusion. In the case of current or former military personnel who experience a job loss because of their service, they can file a wrongful termination lawsuit pursuant to the federal statute known as the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

If you are a veteran and believe you have grounds to launch a wrongful dismissal case on the basis of USERRA, you need to speak with a Tampa military leave wrongful termination lawyer. Managing partner Mitchell Feldman and the attorneys at Feldman Legal Group regularly defend veterans who have faced discriminatory or retaliatory treatment in the workplace after taking military leave. Our team can investigate the situation further and advise what legal course of action is available to you.

USERRA Requirements and Grounds for a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

The provisions of USERRA cover almost all employers. This means that private employers, as well as state and even federal employers, could be found in violation of USERRA and held accountable through a civil lawsuit for damages. USERRA protects all members of the armed forces, as well as the Army and Air National Guards. Individuals employed as members of the National Disaster Medical System and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corp are also covered by USERRA.

One of the most common circumstances in which a service member may need to hire a wrongful termination lawyer in Tampa is when their employer refuses to reinstate their employment or an equivalent position upon their return from military leave. By law, an employer is required to reinstate employment of a service member, assuming they were not dishonorably discharged, they provided notice of leave, promptly returned to work or sought reemployment following the service period, and the service period was not more than five years. There are certain exceptions to these requirements, so it is still advisable to consult with a lawyer about the potential right to sue for wrongful termination if the service member is terminated or demoted after returning from military leave.

If the individual’s military service was no more than 30 days, they must go back to work on the next working day after traveling home and having the required rest period. If the individual’s military service was between 31 and 180 days, they have 14 days from the end of the service period to apply to go back to work. When the individuals’ military service was for 181 days or more, they have 90 days from the end of the service period to apply to go back to work.

USERRA prohibits employers from terminating a service member’s employment without cause for at least 12 months after reemployment when that service member’s leave period was 181 days or longer. Employers are also barred from terminating the service member’s employment without cause for six months after reemployment when that service member’s leave period was between 31 and 180 days. These rules concerning termination for cause do not apply in the case of service members whose service period was 30 days or less. In all cases, whether termination occurs with or without cause, the termination of employment may not be based on the individual’s military service.

Employers are not required to pay wages to service members who are on military leave, but they are required to put that service member on a leave of absence that accrues the same benefits a colleague with the same degree of seniority would otherwise receive if they took a leave of absence. A service member on military leave could still receive entitlements, like paid vacation, from their employer during that furlough period. Service members on military leave also have a legal right to up to two years of uninterrupted health insurance benefits through COBRA under the provisions of USERRA. Employers who try to subvert these rules may be left open to legal action on the basis of USERRA.

Filing a Military Leave Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

A Tampa attorney could advise what options a service member who took military leave and was terminated has to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. There are multiple ways to approach these kinds of cases.

One option is to submit a complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS) division, which would launch a review of the situation to assess if USERRA has been breached. Following a formal review and investigation by VETS, the service member may still be able to file a civil lawsuit for damages.

Another approach is to file a lawsuit directly against the employer. Depending on the type of employer and the facts of the case, these claims can proceed through federal or state court, which makes it essential to have an attorney who specializes in these complex cases. A successful USERRA lawsuit could recover multiple forms of compensation for the claimant, including front and back pay, attorneys’ fees, and other monetary damages.

Contact a Tampa Military Leave Wrongful Termination Attorney

If you believe that you were fired, demoted, or otherwise ill-treated by a former employer because of your military service, federal law affords you a range of protections. A Tampa military leave wrongful termination lawyer could advocate for your best interests and the damages you may be owed.

Mitchell Feldman and his team of seasoned litigators are unafraid to stand up to any employer who violates USERRA. From lodging an official complaint with VETS to taking the case to state or federal court, we are willing to take all necessary steps to fight for your rights and see that justice is served in your case.

We can collect evidence, gather witness testimony and documentation, represent you at trial, and work tirelessly to achieve financial recovery for the harm you have suffered. Call our office today to receive your one-on-one legal consultation with an experienced lawyer.