Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) Success Stories
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.
VETS Assists Police Officer with 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 Army Reservist in Florida
Army reservist Scott Harrison spent years planning and supporting global military operations in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. As a reservist, he achieved the rank of colonel in the Army. In Florida, the company Harrison worked for failed to provide him with promotions and raises for a variety of reasons.
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. 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. Harrison's company settled the claim after a review. 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."