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How courts may make paid military leave as common as paid sick leave

April 14, 2021

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A legal battle is unfolding over paid military leave in courtrooms across the country, as a new wave of class-action lawsuits and court rulings raises a question: are National Guard and Reserve troops entitled to paid short-term military leave under federal law?

Reserve component troops are suing their employers across the country, arguing that the courts should interpret the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 to include paid leave as one of the “rights and benefits” protected under the law commonly known as USERRA. Their argument: short-term paid military leave is comparable to other forms of short-term paid leave like jury duty leave or sick leave, therefore employers who offer other paid leaves are violating USERRA if they don’t offer paid short-term military leave of comparable length and compensation to the other types of leave.

So far, the argument is seeing some success in federal court. That is partially due to how strong USERRA’s protections are, said Allen Shoikhetbrod, a partner at Tully Rinckey who specializes in federal employment law.

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