New Employment Protections for State Activated Texas Military Forces Effective September 1, 2021.

As the 2021 hurricane season begins to threaten the Texas coast, many Texas National Guard members will find themselves called to State-Active Duty for rescues or humanitarian relief efforts.  These proudly serving Texas military members may also be full time employees in your organization, as the construction industry in Texas has often been a strong employer of the “M-day soldier”.  Be aware that the 87th Texas Legislature recently extended the protections of the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to cover State Active-Duty missions and trainings.  The new protections are effective September 1, 2021 and apply to Texas Military Forces members who are ordered to State Active Duty, training, or other duty on or after that date.

Although existing law provided some employment protections to Texas Military Forces members, the remedy available to servicemembers when an employer breached those protections was not clear.  The previous law provided that employers could not terminate employees because of activation to state active duty, state training, or other duty by the Governor, Adjutant General, or their chain of command; however, as written the law implied that the only remedy available to Guardsmen was a complaint to the Texas Workforce Commission.

What has changed?  The law now clearly provides that Texas Guard members, including State Guard members, may hire an attorney to bring a lawsuit against their employer when discriminated against due to the member’s state military service.  The extended law provides that Texas Guardsmen must be returned to the same job they held prior to being placed on orders.  Further, these employees cannot be subjected to the loss of seniority, vacation time, or any other benefit that they would have enjoyed had they not been ordered to duty.  The law specifically allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees and court costs in addition to declaratory or equitable relief and monetary damages. 

Continue to protect the rights of Texas Military Forces member employees, and protect your business, by ensuring that those who serve have stability of employment if/when called up for State Active Duty this hurricane season. 

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