Employment Discrimination for Military Service
Federal laws (acts) that prohibit employment discrimination against U.S. military reservists and veterans are summarized below. Links to more information from official government sources are provided.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994 prohibits discrimination against reservists and veterans in "the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" on the basis of their military service, whether past, present or future.
The quoted phrase above is from an amendment to USERRA by the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. In plain English, it means that reservists and veterans are protected from discrimination in any aspect of employment based on their military service, including hiring, benefits, termination and pay.
Legally, the phrase expanded USERRA discrimination protections to match the standards in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as interpreted by the courts; subsequently, the phrase added protection from harassment that causes a hostile workplace.
USERRA further protects disabled veterans from employment discrimination by requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate their disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act also protect disabled veterans from employment discrimination. For more information, see Understanding Your Employment Rights Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A Guide for Veterans by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
USERRA also grants veterans and reservists the right to be re-employed in their civilian jobs or equivalents with the same seniority, status, benefits and pay that they would have attained, had they not been absent for military duty.
An employer may not rightfully retaliate against you for exercising your employee rights under the Act or for participating in related proceedings.
For more information about your employee rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act regarding employment discrimination, see the USERRA Advisor from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act
The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) of 1974 prohibits employers with Federal contracts or subcontracts of $25,000 or more, from discriminating in employment on the basis of military duty against the following.
- Vietnam-era veterans
- Special disabled veterans
- All veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition, for which a campaign badge (medal) was authorized
VEVRAA obligates such Federal contractors and subcontractors to provide equal employment opportunity to qualified veterans, through affirmative-action programs.
For more information about your employee rights regarding employment discrimination under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act, see the compliance assistance from the DOL.
Veterans' Employment Opportunities Act
The Veterans' Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) of 1998 strengthened and improved the Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944, to better entitle qualified ex-military members to receive veterans' preference in hiring and retention for Federal government jobs.
VEOA also provides a path for veterans to file complaints against Federal government agencies that discriminate against them in employment, by violating their preference rights granted by the Act.
Read Veterans' Preference for more information about same and to quickly determine if you are a qualified veteran or a qualified disabled veteran.
The e-VETS Resource Advisor from the DOL provides information and resources to help you enter the job market as a veteran, such as a link to the official Veterans Job Bank.