California Military Service (USERRA) laws & HR compliance analysis

California Military Service (USERRA): What you need to know

Much like the federal government, which has enacted the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), many states have enacted laws to protect the employment status of those who serve in the armed forces (38 USC 4301 et seq.).
Remember that USERRA, a federal law, preempts any state law that is less protective of the employment and reemployment rights of uniformed service people.
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California law prohibits public and private employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee because he or she is a member of the state or U.S. military or is ordered to duty or training (CA Mil. and Vet. Code Sec. 394, Sec. 395).
Effective January 1, 2018, this prohibition against discrimination extends to all terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
There are a number of laws providing military leave rights and benefits to California's private employees, including:
Leave for training. Employers must grant up to 17 days of temporary, unpaid leave per year to employees in the U.S. reserves, National Guard, or naval militia who are called to engage in drills, training, encampment, naval cruises, special exercises, or like activities. The 17-day period includes time required to travel to and from duty (CA Mil. and Vet. Code Sec. 394.5).
Private employers must grant up to 15 calendar days of unpaid temporary leave to employees in the state military reserve for training, drills, and other inactive duty training (CA Mil. and Vet. Code Sec. 395.9).
Benefits. Private employers may not restrict or terminate any collateral benefit for an employee who is ordered to duty or training for less than 52 weeks (CA Mil. and Vet. Code Sec. 394).
“Collateral benefits” include health care, which may be continued at the employee's expense, life insurance, disability insurance, and seniority status. An employer that restricts benefits in violation of the law is guilty of a misdemeanor and will be liable for actual damages and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the employee.

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