August 12, 2014

As more and more veterans enter the civilian workforce, employers must stay ahead of an ever-growing body of laws and regulations affecting veteran employees and their employers. Two such laws are:

  1. Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) – Protects veterans from discrimination by federal contractors in hiring and employment.  
  2. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) – Prevents employers from discriminating against employees who are called to uniformed service and later seek to return to civilian work.

VEVRAA New Final Rule
VEVRAA is enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), a branch of the Department of Labor (DOL). On March 24, 2014, a new VEVRAA Final Rule went into effect that greatly increases safeguards for veterans with respect to recruiting, hiring, and employment. This law applies to federal contractors with contracts of $100,000 or more. Those with 50 or more employees and contracts of $100,000+ must also prepare an affirmative action plan (“AAP”) that includes the demographics of an employer’s workforce, as well as the employer’s efforts to increase diversity in the workplace.  

USERRA Turns 20
USERRA was enacted 20 years ago and was meant to encourage military service and to minimize the disruption of employees who go back and forth between the civilian and military spheres. It is enforced by the DOL. Under USERRA, all employers are prohibited from discriminating against any employee who participates in uniformed service or exercises rights under USERRA. Types of discrimination include denying employment, benefits, and/or promotions to anyone who is protected by USERRA.
Employers should take some time to familiarize themselves with USERRA, VEVRAA, and other laws related to veterans in the workforce. The only way to ensure compliance is to stay ahead of the curve.  

Contributed by Celina Joachim, Esq., and Robert Mignin, Esq., partners, Baker & McKenzie.

View the on-demand webinar “Hiring and Employing Military Personnel and Veterans: Legal Obligations under VEVRAA & USERRA” with Celina Joachim and Robert Mignin.