Veteran or service member rights
You have the responsibility to treat veterans or service members fairly.
Veteran and service member employees add significant value to America’s workplaces. Their experiences, leadership and work ethic can benefit civilian employers. Employers play an important role in maintaining our nation’s strong national defense by both supporting employees in the uniformed services to serve when called and ensuring veterans can put their skills and experience to work in the civilian workforce following separation.
In general, you should treat your veteran or service member employees the same as any other employees. Two Federal laws prohibit discrimination in employment based on employees’ status as a veteran or service member: the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). Under USERRA, employees are protected from discrimination based on their prior service in the uniformed services; current service in the uniformed services; or intent to join the uniformed services. USERRA also protects employees from retaliation based on their actions to enforce their rights or someone else’s rights under the law, participation in a USERRA proceeding, or assistance in a USERRA investigation.
If you’re a Federal contractor or subcontractor, any veteran or service member employees who meet the definition of “protected veteran” are also protected from discrimination and retaliation under VEVRAA. Both USERRA and VEVRAA apply if you’re a Federal contractor or subcontractor, but while USERRA applies to all veterans, VEVRAA only applies to certain groups of veterans.
Under both of these laws, you may not discriminate or retaliate against employees who attempt to enforce their rights or someone else’s rights. You may not take any adverse action because of an employee’s status as a veteran or service member, or because the employee attempted to enforce his or her rights, or someone else’s rights, as a veteran or service member. For example, you cannot:
- refuse to promote an employee,
- refuse to provide an employee with employment benefits,
- retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint about his or her rights being violated, or
- refuse to hire an applicant
because of his or her status as a veteran or service member. It’s not always obvious when a situation can be considered discrimination under the law. It’s in your best interest as an employer to familiarize yourself with these laws and contact the Federal Government if you have questions.
It’s not always obvious when a situation can be considered discrimination or retaliation under the law. It’s in your best interest as an employer to familiarize yourself with these laws and contact the Federal Government if you have questions.
Questions? We’re here to help.
We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Many questions about your responsibilities towards veteran and service member employees may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors:
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) Advisor
- Federal Contractor Compliance Advisor
The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) enforces USERRA and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) enforces VEVRAA. These agencies work together as appropriate to ensure fair treatment for America’s service members and veterans.
For additional assistance, please contact:
- VETS: 1-866-4-USA-DOL or your local VETS office
- OFCCP: 1-800-397-6251 or the OFCCP Help Desk