7 Signs Of Discrimination Against Veterans At Work

While American troops are overseas, fighting for their country, many people back home have "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers, hang yellow ribbons, and pray for their safe return. But once veterans return stateside, many find their employers aren't jumping up and down to have them come back to work. Veterans often suffer discrimination in the workplace. Here are seven common signs of discrimination against veterans, and the laws that protect them:

1. An employer says the job is no longer available.

Many employers don't realize that returning veterans have an absolute right to have their jobs restored when they return from active duty. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protects returning veterans from job loss due to their military service. Not only does USERRA require that your job be restored if you've been on active service five years or less with that employer, but you are entitled to be restored to the job and benefits that you would have attained had you not been absent.

For instance, if it is reasonably certain you would have been promoted due to seniority, but were on active duty when the promotion was made, you may be entitled to that promotion even if someone else is in the position when you return. Your employer must offer training that will get you qualified for that higher position, if necessary. If you need to take a test for the promotion, the employer should allow you to take the test when you return.

2. The employer doesn't want to hire veterans.

Some military members find that employers don't want to hire them. National Guard members in particular find that employers fear they will be called up and miss work, so won't hire them, no matter how qualified. USERRA says employers can't refuse to hire military service people just because of their military service.

More: Ask A Lawyer: How Can I Get Paid For Overtime?

3. The employer takes away accrued vacation time.

USERRA says employers can't deny any "benefit of employment" due to military service. USERRA's protection of benefits of employment includes any "advantage, profit, privilege, gain, status, account or interest." If you would have accrued vacation while you were in active service, you are entitled to that vacation as if you had been there. If it is reasonably certain that you would have obtained a pay raise during your military leave, you are entitled to that pay raise upon your return. If pay raises are based on merit and seniority, then you are at least entitled to the seniority part of the raise, as if you had been there. For pension, you must be treated as if you were continuously employed. While you're on leave, you can elect to continue your health care coverage for yourself and your dependents for up to 24 months. Even if you didn't elect continued coverage, you're entitled to coverage upon your return.

4. Co-workers or bosses harass the veteran.

Sometimes, co-workers or supervisors harass returning service members due to their military service. It used to be that USERRA didn't protect against harassment, but when President Obama signed the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, the loophole allowing harassment was fixed. Harassment of service members or former service members due to their military service is now illegal.

5. An employer won't hire a veteran due to his or her disability.

Unfortunately, many returning veterans come home with a service-related disability. The Americans With Disabilities Act makes discrimination based upon a disability illegal. Refusing to hire a veteran, firing a veteran, harassing or demoting a veteran due to a disability is illegal. If a veteran can perform all the duties of the job with a reasonable accommodation, the accommodation must be provided. If, for instance, the veteran suffered a vision loss but can perform their job duties using a CCTV, the employer must provide that CCTV unless the employer can demonstrate that it will cause an undue hardship.

6. The boss won't give the veteran time off for a medical condition.

If you need up to 26 weeks of continuous or intermittent leave for a serious medical condition that was incurred on active duty, you are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act when: You worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the start of leave (or if you were in the National Guard or Reserve and, but for your service, would have worked 1,250 hours before the start of your leave); you work at a location that has 50 or more employees working within 75 miles of it; and you worked for the employer for 12 months, including the time you were absent. The 12 months don't have to be consecutive. If you were gone less than seven years, you can count your prior work with the employer. If your break in service was due to military service or covered by an agreement -- such as a union agreement -- then it can be longer than seven years ago.

7. The employer refuses to to give time off to care for a family member.

Some returning veterans need ongoing medical care. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides caregiver leave for families of injured or ill military members, including spouse, child, parent and next of kin. Family members of covered service members (spouse, child or parent) can take up to 26 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. If your family member is in the National Guard, up to 12 weeks of this leave can also be used to deal with any exigency that arises due to their deployment, such as arranging child care, making financial and legal arrangements, attending military ceremonies, spending time with the family member on leave, and post-deployment activities. The leave can be intermittent, meaning that it doesn't need to be taken all at once, or can be taken all at once.

More: 10 Dumb Reasons Employers Fire Workers

What To Do If Your Employer Breaks The Law

If your employer violates USERRA, you may file a claim with the Department of Labor or you may file a suit using your own attorney. Your possible remedies include reinstatement to your job, back pay, lost benefits, corrected personnel files, lost promotional opportunities, retroactive seniority, pension adjustments, restored vacation, attorney's fees, costs, and possible liquidated damages for a willful violation. There is no statute of limitations under USERRA, but the courts still may penalize you if you delay unreasonably. I'd suggest bringing your claim as soon as possible.

If your employer violates the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may file a complaint with the Department of Labor or may file a suit using your own attorney. Your possible remedies include lost wages, lost benefits, actual monetary losses, attorney's fees, costs, and possible liquidated damages for a willful violation. You have two years from the date of the violation to sue (3 years for a willful violation, but don't wait).

If your employer violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, you must file a Charge of Discrimination with EEOC within 180 days of the discrimination, unless there is a state or local law that also provides relief for discrimination on the basis of disability. In those cases, you have 300 days to file a charge. Once EEOC issues the right to sue, you'll have 90 days to file suit. Remedies include hiring, promotion, reinstatement, back pay, ordering reasonable accommodations, attorneys fees and costs.

You may also have remedies under your state law and local ordinances, so it's not a bad idea to talk to an employee-side employment attorney in your state if you believe your rights were violated.

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Paul Cottager

What if an employer feels that they can assign an unreasonable amount of responsibilities to a veteran new hire when considering his or her experience level in an unrelated industry they are pursuing a career in, and assign him the most difficult to work with manager in the office who is known for his character flaws, such as zero empathy, inability to effectively communicate, and has the most difficult clients on his schedule. To give a little background I was participating in an internship at a national public accounting firm that I will not disclose the name of, and in my internship class was a Marine Corps veteran that had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He had just graduated college and got the internship for the busy season like I had. While the majority of the interns were given wonderful and extremely cool tempered managers that taught us how to do the work by giving us small pieces of work at a time to do and then be reviewed shortly after, the veteran intern was assigned to the douche bag managers team consisting of the both of them and one other intern that sat on the other side of the building. All the other teams had everyone sitting near one another so that the interns could help each other out, while all the veteran had was the manager because when he asked us to try and help the work he was given barely looked recognizable. In other words the work they were assigning him, a person with no more industry experience than any other intern, looked like it was of a different realm and something that a senior staff would be assigned. Even a senior staffer who sat near all of us did not know how to help him on several occasions. It was really weird. To make everything worse the manager would excessively ping him on his IM while he was working on one project and tell him about all of the mistakes he was making rather than writing out a list of points, printing the list and giving it to the intern so that they could fix their mistakes almost immediately after turning the audit or tax return in to the manager for review; like our manager did for us. This manager would put all of the assignments to the side while he worked on a few other projects the manager himself was tasked with and then review everything all at once at a later date. He would then scream at him for failing to do something. We would sit and almost get annoyed by the sound that the computer was making every time his manager IMed him. He would need to fix several different audits or returns that he did several weeks before all at once, and during busy season it is very easy to completely forget about something difficult you were working on if merely one day expires before starting something else.
At the end the only ones receiving full employment offers and positive evals were the ones that had easy tasks and easy going managers to evaluate their performance. I think he was treated unfairly compared to others and it pisses me off he did not get a job offer

March 29 2014 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can I Foia or Foipa if I don’t get selected for the job? Who help veterans is already work for the government
What about veterans that are already work for the government?. After your first government job people want to grow in the organization but sometimes we don’t get selected for the job after the interview.
You meet all the requirements listed in the job announcement but they only rate you base on your response on the interview? Does veteran preference doesn’t apply for veterans that already has federal job. I see many people that never serve and have the same qualification for the job get the job first (job requirement: experience, education ,etc.). how is the hiring process for the veterans that already work for the government ( is the selection base on the interview?) who is watching the results of the interview? There is not veteran preference after you are government employee? is everything base on the interview?
During the interview you always hear we call you after we finish with the interview process of the candidates? Guess who get hired? Non veteran

August 15 2013 at 6:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I work at a post office, my son who is now serving over seas in a war zone, my boss said that she would not hire my son who passed the postal exam with flying colors. anyway she would not hire him because his is in the Military. She has sense made remarks that she would not hire anyone in the Military. I called the base and talked to them they said that they could do nothing until my son returns and he talks to them, I think that is bull. Someone needs to help me protect the Veterans that are here now!

May 26 2013 at 9:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Veterans should be given every consideration when applying for jobs, including any disabilities they may have. However I am also seeing more and more 'hire a vet' programs going on...well every 'vet' who gets hired presumably takes a position someone else could also have filled. So what makes vets so special? They volunteered for their work and got paid for it just like anyone else, and when that employment ends they just need to find a job like anyone else. And a lot of these programs/ads insinuate they must have higher paying jobs to support their families. Well regular citizens who are not vets also have families to support, are they supposed to get what is left over, or minimum wage jobs? Just let the employers decide who to hire: If the vets are the most qualified they should get the job; if not, then just keep looking like everyone else. All of this extra attention is just going to turn people against them instead of getting their equal chance.

September 28 2012 at 1:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sadly, the former service members who are most discriminated against are those who have served in combat. Employers stereotype them as ticking time bombs with PTSD. Military service can be an advantage if you served on a nuclear submarine but not if you were stationed in Afghanistan.

September 28 2012 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sadly, the former service members who are most discriminated against are those who have served in combat. Employers stereotype them as ticking time bombs with PTSD. Military service can be an advantage if you served on a nuclear submarine but not if you were stationed in Afghanistan.

September 28 2012 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's because mostly all of these Companies only want to hire Illegal Aliens !!

September 28 2012 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Although I don't agree with everything military related (mostly due to senior brass/officials) , as a small employer I find ex-military personnel as some of the best to employ..........reliable, trustworthy and up to the job. One in particular had to leave his job on less than 24 hrs notice to leave for the start of the Iraq war. He retuned to an open-ended job as well as a fund raiser at the biz, which raised enough money to pay off his truck.

September 27 2012 at 11:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Ok last week before the Senate went on break. A Job bill was put forward for Hiring Vets. Was shot down 59 to 39 by the Republicans. After spending 800 million for the wars. They cannot find 1 billion for our Vets. They fought long enough time to come home to jobs. You fought for our freedom you deserve an oppotunity for a Job.

September 27 2012 at 9:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I guess the dems are looking for more votes. Now thier trying to make Veterans into part of the victim world. Yes i'm a disabled Nam vet (class 69 ) But i'm no victim.If your a vet and can't find a job your not a victim your an American.Got wounded? Your an American.Hard time making the bills? Welcome to America.Life is hard and unfair everywhere. Be happy your living in America ,your lucky

September 27 2012 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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