Military service members sacrifice much in the line of duty – the comforts of home, proximity to their loved ones and countless day-to-day luxuries that non-service members often take for granted. Indeed, your life itself may be on the line.
Despite the rigors and challenges of military life, the transition back to civilian life can be just as tough. Pivoting your military training to the civilian sector is no easy task. The last thing you need to face is discrimination, harassment or limited opportunities on account of your status as a veteran.
Veteran protections under federal law
Fortunately, the law provides important employment rights for veterans. At the federal level, these laws include:
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), which prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against military members and veterans. These protections cover nearly all aspects of employment, from recruiting and hiring to advancement and career opportunities to working conditions, benefits and termination. USERRA also grants military members certain reemployment rights following a military leave of absence.
- The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1988, which gives veterans preference for certain positions and advancements in federal employment.
- The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), which requires federal contractors to meet certain “affirmative action” benchmarks in recruiting and hiring veterans.
Some states have additional protections for service members and veterans.
Other grounds for protection
Veterans and service members are entitled to the same employment protections as civilians. For example, if you’re a disabled veteran, you have the same rights as a civilian under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Likewise, if you experience discrimination on grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation or other protected status, you may have an employment discrimination claim under Title VII (and applicable state law).
Talk to a lawyer about the specific concerns you have.