As the 2021 hurricane season begins to threaten the Texas coast, many members of the Texas National Guard will find themselves called into active state duty for rescues or humanitarian relief efforts. These proud serving Texan servicemen can also be full-time employees in your organization, as the Texas construction industry has often been a major employer of the “M-Day Soldier”. Know that the 87e The Texas Legislature recently extended protections in the Federal Uniform Service Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Military Civilian Relief Act (SCRA) to cover missions and training in active state service. The new protections are effective September 1, 2021, and apply to members of the Texas military who are ordered to participate in active state service, training, or other service on or after that date.
Although the current law provided certain employment protections for members of the Texas military, it was unclear what recourse available to the military when an employer violated those protections. The previous law provided that employers could not dismiss employees due to activation of state active service, state formation or other task by the governor, adjutant general or their chain of command; however, as written, the law implied that the only recourse available to guards was a complaint to the Texas Workforce Commission.
what changed? The law now clearly provides that members of the Texas Guard, including members of the State Guard, can hire an attorney to take legal action against their employer in cases of discrimination based on the member’s state military service. . The extended law provides that Texas guards must be fired to the same job they held before being placed on orders. In addition, these employees may not suffer the loss of seniority, vacation or any other benefit they would have enjoyed had they not been put on duty. The law specifically allows the recovery of attorney’s fees and court costs in addition to declaratory or equitable remedies and pecuniary damages.
Continue to protect the rights of Texas military employees and protect your business, ensuring those who serve have job stability if / when called up for active duty in the state this hurricane season.