Virginia’s Civil Air Patrol Leave Law, Va. Code § 40.1-28.7:6 (“CAPLL,” titled “Employers to allow leave for volunteer members of Civil Air Patrol; civil remedy”), provides that employees who are volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol are entitled to limited amounts of job-protected leave for training for or responding to emergency missions.
Job-Protected Leave For Civil Air Patrol Training and Missions
The CAPLL provides job-protected leave for employees who are volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol to attend training for emergency missions or to respond to emergency missions. The employee is entitled to this leave without loss of seniority, accrued leave, benefits, or efficiency rating. The job-protected leave is capped at 10 days per year for training and 30 days per year for responding to emergency missions:
A. Any employee who is a volunteer member of the Civil Air Patrol shall be entitled to leaves of absence from his employment without loss of seniority, accrued leave, benefits, or efficiency rating on all days during which such employee is (i) engaged in training for emergency missions with the Civil Air Patrol, not to exceed 10 workdays per federal fiscal year, or (ii) responding to an emergency mission as a Civil Air Patrol volunteer, not to exceed 30 workdays per federal fiscal year.
Va. Code § 40.1-28.7:6(A). Thus, for example, under the CAPLL an employer may not require the employee to use accrued vacation days or other types of accrued leave during the period when the employee is on job-protected Civil Air Patrol leave.
Requirements for Civil Air Patrol Leave
The CAPLL provides that to receive leave under the statute, the employee must provide the employer with (1) certification that the employee has been authorized by an appropriate government authority to respond to or train for an emergency mission, and (2) verification from the Civil Air Patrol that there is an emergency need for the employee’s volunteer service:
B. Any employee requesting leave pursuant to this section shall provide (i) certification that the employee has been authorized by the United States Air Force, the Governor, or a department, division, agency, or political subdivision of the state to respond to or train for an emergency mission and (ii) verification from the Civil Air Patrol of the emergency need of the employee’s volunteer service.
No Requirement to Exhaust Other Leave
The CAPLL also includes several provisions about how the leave is to be treated under the employer’s leave policies. While the employer may treat CAPLL leave as unpaid leave, employers may not require an employee to exhaust other forms of leave that the employee may be entitled to (like vacation or allotted personal days) before using the leave to which the employee is entitled under the CAPLL. Further, the law specifies that it while the employer may treat the leave as unpaid, the CAPLL does not prevent an employer from providing the employee with paid leave during the CAPLL leave period:
C. An employer may treat leaves of absence pursuant to this section as unpaid leave. No employer shall require an employee to exhaust any other leave to which the employee is entitled prior to such leaves of absence. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent an employer from providing paid leave during such leaves of absence.
Finally, the CAPLL provides a private right of action for employees whose rights under the law are violated. If the employee prevails, the CAPLL allows the employee to recover lost wages, reasonable attorney fees, and costs:
D. Any employee aggrieved by a violation of any provision of this section may bring a civil action to enforce such provision. Any employee who is successful in such action shall be entitled to recover only lost wages, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs incurred in such action.
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