Overview: A number of laws on the state and federal level apply to the employment of veterans and workers who perform military service. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), as well as its state counterparts, prohibit applicant and employee discrimination and retaliation based on prior, current or future military service. USERRA generally applies to service in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force Coast Guard and the Reserves; the Army National Guard and Air National Guard; and the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Employers also have an obligation under USERRA to accommodate an eligible employee's uniformed services leave request and to reinstate an eligible employee (with some exceptions) after he or she has served.
A veteran may be protected under federal and state family and medical leave laws if he or she returns from military service and is suffering from a serious health condition. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its state counterparts may offer protection if a veteran suffers from a disability. This means, for example, that an employer may not refuse to hire a veteran because he or she has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because he or she was previously diagnosed with PTSD or because the employer assumes the employee has PTSD.
The Vietnam Era Veteran's Readjustment Act of 1972 (VEVRAA) addresses the employment of veterans and ensures that veterans have equal employment opportunity in the workforce. Under VEVRAA, federal contractors and subcontractors are obligated to take positive actions to hire and promote veterans. Such employers are required to report their efforts toward hiring and employing veterans and are obligated to have an affirmative action plan that addresses veteran employment.
All employers should aim to develop policies and practices to eliminate discrimination against veterans and those workers who perform military service. Further, employers should implement hiring practices to encourage the employment of veterans.
Trends: In response to the increased number of veterans returning to the workforce after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued new guidance with regard to the hiring and employment of veterans. Some of these veterans may have become disabled in the course of serving in the military and are entitled to the protection of the ADA and other state and local disability discrimination laws. Employers need to understand their obligations to reasonably accommodate such individuals and not discriminate against them when it comes to interviewing and hiring.
Author: Melissa Burdorf, JD, Legal Editor
Employers seeking to set forth employees' rights to take leave under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) in order to serve in the military should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Private employers may give a hiring preference to veterans and spouses of veterans with disabilities under a new law.
On March 25, 2014, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a law aimed at creating employment opportunities for veterans.
The City of Tempe, Arizona recently passed an antidiscrimination ordinance that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, familial status, age, disability, US military veteran status, sexual orientation and gender identity. Tempe employers (with one or more employees), labor organizations and city contractors are covered by the ordinance.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Rhode Island employment law requirements HR must follow with respect USERRA.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who take leave to perform uniformed services. This section reviews USERRA rights and obligations related to leave, reinstatement, discrimination and retaliation, notice, compensation and benefits, termination and more.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Massachusetts employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to USERRA.
HR guidance on developing policies and practices regarding hiring and accommodating veterans in the workplace.