[author: Melissa Burdorf, XpertHR Legal Editor]
On August 16, 2012, President Obama signed into law H.R. 3670, which amends the Aviation and Transportation Security Act and expands the Uniformed Servicemembers Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) coverage to include protection for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers who are called to active duty.
Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Congress created the TSA to strengthen security for all US air travelers. Congress designated the transportation security officers (TSOs) employed by the TSA, as a special class of federal employee considered integral to US national security. Because of this designation, and in order to deploy a large workforce quickly, TSO employees were exempt from certain employment laws, such as USERRA, and were given broad authority to hire, fire and promote officers. However, the TSOs remained exempt from USERRA for more than 10 years following 9/11.
By passing this new law, the TSA will be required to comply with USERRA, which requires employers to provide eligible employees with the protection of reemployment (and the protection of job benefits, seniority, etc.) when an employee volunteers or is called to serve in the uniformed services. Now, National Guard members, reservists, and veterans who work as TSOs can be assured that if they comply with USERRA they will be able to return to their civilian jobs after a military deployment.