VETS developed an online system that allows USERRA claimants to submit claims electronically. The U.S. Department of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and VETS staff are available to provide technical assistance prior to filing an official claim.
Steps to Filing a Claim
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) elaws Advisor assists veterans in understanding employee eligibility and job entitlements, employer obligations, benefits, and remedies under USERRA. The law is intended to encourage uniformed service so that America can enjoy the protection of those services, staffed by qualified people, while maintaining a balance with the needs of private and public employers who also depend on these same individuals.
For local assistance, you can contact your state's Director for Veterans' Employment and Training (DVET) with questions and to get more help and information.
Once you have worked through the USERRA elaws Advisor and believe that you have a valid case, it's time to talk to your employer. The ESGR has Ombudsmen who can assist in resolving the matter between you and your employer. They will talk to you and your employer in an effort to mediate a remedy. The remedy is an action that will bring the employer into compliance with the law. According to the ESGR, 95 percent of all requests for assistance are resolved informally. To start the mediation process, call the Ombudsmen at: 1-800-336-4590 (select option 1) between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern Time (M-F).
You can file a formal complaint online with VETS and contact your state's DVET if you need assistance in filing your complaint. Unlike the ESGR, VETS cannot contact an employer until a claim has been filed. After filing, VETS will open an investigation on your behalf and try to resolve the matter with your employer. You can also file a USERRA complaint by downloading a form, filling it out and following the mailing instructions. Your complaint will be forwarded to a VETS office in your area.
VETS has investigation and resolution authority, but limited enforcement power. An employer may decide to dispute VETS' investigative findings, or elect not to come into compliance with USERRA. If VETS is unable to resolve your case, you may request that your case be sent to the Attorney General (for private/state employees) or to the Office of Special Counsel (for federal employees). These agencies have the power to enforce USERRA in federal court, or before the Merit Systems Protection Board for federal employees. Otherwise, you could file a private action based on what type of employee you are:
- Federal Employee: File an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board.
- State Employee*: File a lawsuit in a court of that State.
- Private Employee: File a lawsuit in United States District Court.