Can an employer pay a veteran less upon return from military leave?
Common HR Questions
Issue: Arianna recently returned from military leave. Before she left, she held the position of store manager. Now that she has returned, her manager told her that he will rehire her as a floor manager, at a lesser salary than the present store manager. Has he violated the law?
Answer: Yes. Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), a veteran is not required to accept less than what the holder of the veteran’s job is receiving at the time the veteran is reinstated. Arianna is entitled to her former position at the rate of pay received by the present store manager.
The wage rate or pay scale to which a returning service member is generally entitled upon reinstatement is that which the employee would have received if, instead of entering the military, he or she had remained continuously on the job. Thus, with respect to changes in “seniority, status or pay” occurring during the veteran’s absence, he or she is entitled to the same treatment as an employee who remained continuously employed. Upon reinstatement, the veteran is entitled not only to all base pay but also to all other elements of pay that he or she formerly received, such as travel expenses, drawing accounts or bonuses.
Source: CCH When Duty Calls; Military Leave and Veterans’ Rights.