Guard & Reserve – Being Discreet About Your Reservist Status
Step-by-Step Guide to Employment: Guard/Reserve – Being Discreet About Your Reservist Status
As a National Guard service member or a member in the Reserves, you could be wondering if it is okay to share your reservist status when you are in a job interview. Does a future employer have the right to that information? Are you legally bound to tell them? Why might there be reasons to do so?
These are all important questions to the guard/reserve service members looking for a new job. The truth is, some future employers will be okay with you disclosing your service and some won’t be, and you might not know if the reason you don’t get the job is because of your status if you do bring it up. In fact, it is probably better not to.
Disclosing Is Not Required
There is no legal requirement for a guard or reserve member to have to disclose that during a job interview. Due to USERRA, the employer may not deny you employment because you are in the service, however, it is a little bit more complicated than that.
What Is USERRA?
USERRA stands for The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. This was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 to protect the civilian employment of active and reserve military personnel in the United States when called to active duty.
Under USERRA you have:
- Reemployment Rights – where you have the right to be reemployed in your civilian job if you have to leave the job to perform service in the military.
- The Right to Be Free From Discrimination and Retaliation – this includes that an employer may not deny you initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment because of your status.
- Health Insurance Protection – which means if you leave the job because of military service, you have the right to elect to continue your existing employer-based health plan coverage for you and your dependents for up to 24 months while in the military. You also have the right to be reinstated into their health plan when you are reemployed.
The U.S. The Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) is authorized to investigate and resolve complaints of USERRA violations. You can read more about USERRA here.
Should You Disclose Your Status?
In most cases, it is probably best to not disclose your status when you are interviewing for jobs. You should keep your guard and reservist status discreet. This means that you don’t have to offer that information, but you also don’t want to lie about it if it comes up.
As stated above, USERRA does prohibit companies from denying employment to you as a reservist. However, that can be a thin line when it comes to legal protection. The truth is, some employers might not want to hire you because of it. They might assume you would need time off every week or be gone more than you actually would be. An employer could also easily get around the USERRA rules during the hiring process.
That being said, in some situations, sharing your reservist status might be better to share. You might feel like your service is an asset to your work history, or you know that the company is military and veteran friendly and has hired many reservists in the past. You will need to decide if you need to be discreet about your service or not.
Keep in mind that after you do start your job, USERRA will require you to provide your employer notice of military service in a timely manner. This is so they can plan accordingly and would make for a better relationship overall.