Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) Information
Department of Labor USERRA 101 An on-line introduction to the rules and regulations surrounding USERRA
- To sign up for the course, proceed to USERRA 101. You will need to provide your business information to register for and access the course materials.
A Fiscal Year 2013 U.S. Department of Labor report has found that 38 percent of the complaints reviewed by its Veterans' Employment and Training Service under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act contained allegations of discrimination on the basis of past, present, or future military service or status. An additional 25 percent of the complaints involved allegations of improper reinstatement into civilian jobs following military service. In all VETS reviewed 1,328 unique USERRA complaint cases in FY 2013, according to the report.
USERRA protects civilian job rights and benefits for veterans and members of the active and Reserve components of the U.S. armed forces. USERRA provides that returning service-members must be promptly reemployed in the same position that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority.
During FY 2013, VETS briefed more than 47,000 individuals on their job rights under USERRA. Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the deployment of U.S. armed forces to Iraq and Afghanistan, VETS has provided USERRA information to more than one million individuals through briefings or individual technical assistance.
Individuals who believe their employment or reemployment rights under USERRA have been violated may file a complaint with VETS online or by submitting a signed complaint form. As part of the complaint review, a VETS investigator will collect and review evidence and will conduct witness interviews deemed necessary to obtain a resolution. Regardless of the outcome of the case, if a claimant is dissatisfied, he or she may request that the case be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice or, in the case of federal government employees, to the Office of Special Counsel, for further review and possible representation in U.S. District Court or before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. In FY 2013, VETS referred 83 cases to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and seven cases to the Office of Special Counsel.
Online USERRA Training
OPM USERRA Protection for Federal Employees Presentation (worth watching)
USERRA Helps Army Reservist in Florida
For 10 of the past 12 years, Army reservist Scott Harrison was repeatedly called up to spend years at a time planning and supporting global military operations in places such as Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Over the course of his time abroad as a reservist, he achieved the rank of colonel in the Army. But back at home in Florida, the large telecommunication company Harrison worked for failed to provide him with promotions and raises for a variety of reasons, including what the company said was the lack of sufficient annual evaluations by his supervisor to support promotions during his military service. After trying to collaborate with the company to recapture the raises and promotions, Harrison filed a claim with the department under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. USERRA mandates that returning service members must be promptly re-employed in the same position that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. As part of the complaint review process, an investigator from the department's Veterans' Employment and Training Service collects and reviews evidence and conducts witness interviews in order to obtain a resolution. Regardless of the outcome of the case, if a claimant is dissatisfied, he or she may request that the case be referred to the Department of Justice. After several months of review, Harrison's company settled the claim. He has been promoted and paid $96,000 in lost wages. Harrison said, "The Department of Labor was able to advocate on my behalf and get results I could not get on my own."
VETS Assists Police Officer Through USERRA
Law enforcement officer Brian Benvie received a promotion, retroactive seniority and back pay through his claims filed with the Veterans' Employment and Training Service under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act. Benvie, an Army reservist who has served deployments in Kosovo, Iraq and Kuwait, first missed taking promotional exams for sergeant and lieutenant at the Brockton, Mass., police force due to active military duty. When he eventually took the exam, he found others were promoted ahead of him even though he scored better. Compounding the situation, his time in grade for promotions was miscalculated. Benvie filed complaints under USERRA and received swift help from VETS staff in the national office and the regional office in Atlanta. "They were a big help because they took my case," Benvie said. VETS eventually referred the case to the Department of Justice, which reached a settlement with the City of Brockton that included more than $32,000 in back pay. Benvie said the positive outcomes on promotion, seniority and pay through USERRA "will have ramifications for the rest of my life."
USERRA Helps Missouri Army Vet Get Job Back
With an assist from the Department of Labor, Theresa Slater got her job, workplace seniority and lost wages restored under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. After her active service duty in the Army ended, Slater returned to her job as a security officer in Missouri. But she found that her company had changed her status to new employee, which cost her 13 years of seniority and required her to take company training courses over again. Slater filed a USERRA claim concerning her loss of seniority. Shortly after that, a small infraction of company policy by Slater led to the company firing her. Slater amended her claim alleging that the company retaliated against her for exercising her re-employment rights under USERRA. The department investigated the case and found that Slater was protected from termination for up to one year under USERRA and informed the company. Slater then went to arbitration, where she was offered back her original job, with her seniority restored and more than $20,000 in back wages. Slater said that "the department's investigation of my case made me feel confident I would win" in arbitration.
- 2012 USERRA Annual Report to Congress (PDF)
- 2011 USERRA Annual Report to Congress (PDF)
- 2010 USERRA Annual Report to Congress (PDF)
- 2009 USERRA Annual Report to Congress (PDF)
- 2008 USERRA Annual Report to Congress (PDF)
- 2007 USERRA Annual Report to Congress (PDF)
- 2006 USERRA Annual Report to Congress (PDF)
- Frequently Asked Questions for Reservists Being Called to Active Duty