USERRA Claims For Private Sector Employees
USERRA provides certain legal protections for current and former uniformed service members. This guide provides an overview of the legal protections available under USERRA for currently enlisted service members and veterans in their civilian employment with private-sector employers.
Protections Under USERRAThe purpose of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is to provide legal protections to civilian employees who presently are or formally were members of the armed forces. Provided specific conditions are met, USERRA protects an employee*s civilian job while the employee is performing uniformed military service. 38 U.S.C. ** 4312. This means that if certain prerequisites apply, a private sector employer cannot refuse to employ an employee after he or she returns from uniformed service. Relatedly, USERRA allows for an employee to continue his or her civilian health coverage for up to 24 months during uniformed service. 38 U.S.C. * 4317(a)(1).
In addition to securing a uniformed service member*s employment and health insurance, USERRA mandates that employees covered by the Act have the right to be free from discrimination in certain employment actions, including an application for employment, becoming re-employed with an employer, maintaining employment with an employer, and promotional opportunities. 38 U.S.C. * 4311(a).
USERRA also protects employees from being subjected to retaliation for participating in an action to enforce rights under USERRA, even if the employee is not a current or former member of the military. 38 U.S.C. * 4311(b). For example, an employer cannot take an adverse action against an employee because the employee provides testimony in an investigation to support a coworker*s claim that the coworker was subjected to discrimination because of her military service. See 38 U.S.C. * 4311(b).
Process For Filing A USERRA ClaimPrivate-sector employees who intend to file a USERRA claim have two options. The first option is to file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor (DOL). DOL will contact the responsible employer to obtain additional information regarding the claim and, if possible, seek to resolve the complaint through mutual agreement between the employee and the employer. If DOL is unable to resolve the matter, the employee still has the option of filing a complaint in federal court, as discussed below.
The second option is for the employee to file a complaint directly in the applicable federal district court. For any claims occurring in or after 2008, there is no deadline by which an employee must file a USERRA claim in court. See 38 U.S.C. * 4327(b). However, it is still advantageous not to delay in filing a USERRA claim as an inordinate delay could negatively impact an employee*s USERRA claim.
Do You Believe You Suffered Discrimination Because Of Your Status As A Veteran?The Wick Law Office represents clients in USERRA claims. Please contact us for more information about such claims or to discuss your specific situation.