U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL AND DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,
VETERANS’ EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING SERVICE, SIGN MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 2/7/01
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), regarding case processing procedures under two veterans’ statutes: the Veterans’ Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA), and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The purpose of the MOU is to formalize and establish guidelines for an effective, cooperative relationship between VETS and OSC in carrying out their interrelated statutory obligations under these two laws.
The MOU formalizes OSC’s current practice of referring individuals to VETS if OSC receives an allegation of a violation of veterans’ preference. This is important because under VEOA, a complainant only has 60 days from the date of the alleged violation to file a claim with VETS. In addition, the MOU requires VETS to refer meritorious VEOA claims to OSC for review for potential disciplinary action purposes.
With respect to USERRA claims, the MOU establishes rules for the two agencies to coordinate a complainant’s request to have a USERRA claim referred to OSC for review. Under USERRA, where VETS cannot resolve a complaint involving a federal executive agency, the complainant may request that the matter be referred to OSC for review and possible legal representation before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) or may directly file an appeal before the MSPB. The Memorandum provides that VETS will notify OSC when a complainant is filing an appeal before MSPB. It also provides that should OSC arrive at a preliminary decision regarding representation of a USERRA claimant that is different from the Department of Labor’s (DOL), OSC will advise the DOL’s Regional Solicitor’s Office and provide it with an opportunity, in consultation with VETS, to respond to OSC’s recommendation.
Special Counsel Kaplan said that the memorandum, “reflects each agency’s dedication to protecting the important employment rights granted by Congress to uniformed military personnel.” She further noted that, “OSC is fully committed to active coordination with VETS to ensure that protected individuals are provided their rights under veterans’ preference and USERRA.”
VEOA established a redress mechanism for veterans who believe their rights under veterans’ preference have been violated. In addition, VEOA established a new prohibited personnel practice, section 2302(b)(11) of title 5, pertaining to veterans’ preference. USERRA revised and restructured the Veterans’ Reemployment Rights Act. A basic purpose of USERRA is to prohibit discrimination against any person because of his or her military service. In addition, USERRA sets forth the reemployment and restoration rights of persons who leave their employment to perform military duty.
Additional information about OSC, as well as a copy of the MOU, is available at its web site, http://www.osc.gov. The MOU can be found in OSC’s Reading Room.