The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law, passed in 1994, that protects military service members and veterans from employment discrimination on the basis of their service, and allows them to regain their civilian jobs following a period of uniformed service.
USERRA applies to members of the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard, and other “Uniformed Services” (including the National Disaster Medical System and the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service). The law ensures that service members:
- Are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their military service;
- Are promptly re-employed in their civilian jobs upon return from duty;
- Are not discriminated against by employers because of past, present, or future military service.
USERRA applies to both public and private employers. The Office of Special Counsel, in conjunction with the Department of Labor, investigates and enforces USERRA claims involving federal government employers. The Department of Labor and the Department of Justice handle USERRA claims involving private employers as well as state and local governments.
A number of government agencies have roles in the education and enforcement of USERRA. OSC receives cases from the Department of Labor that may be appropriate for litigation. These are cases in which a federal employer is believed to have violated USERRA, but the issue could not be resolved by the Department of Labor. These cases are referred to OSC at the claimant’s request once the claimant has exhausted the Department of Labor’s process. The Department of Labor will inform claimants of their right of referral to OSC at the end of its own investigation. In addition, under the Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010, which established the USERRA Demonstration Project, OSC will investigate and enforce roughly half of the public sector cases (that is, cases involving a federal government employer) filed with the Department of Labor.
How to File a Complaint
USERRA complaints must be filed with the
Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL-VETS).
If you are considering filing a USERRA complaint or simply want to learn more, OSC recommends that you first contact the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). ESGR is an agency within the Department of Defense established expressly to help resolve these kinds of issues.