Articles Posted in Uniformed Services (USERRA)

Siemens Corporation was selected to receive the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.  The company was nominated by an Army Reservist with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics of Glasgow, Delaware.  Only 15 employers nationwide will be honored with the award, the DoD’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees.  The company was selected from more than 3,000 nominees.DoD_thumb

The employee who nominated Siemens reported that the company started an online Veteran’s Network to share job information and advice with military employees.  The company also partnered with the U.S. Army to allow soldiers to be stationed at Siemens facilities for training.  When Guard and Reserve members are deployed, supervisors maintain contact with them, and the company supports their families whenever they need assistance. In 2011, Siemens pledged to hire 600 veterans – actually hiring 631 in just 3 months. The company has pledged to hire 300 more veterans in 2012.

This year’s honorees will be recognized at an event in Washington, D.C. on September 20.  To learn more about the Freedom Award and this year’s recipients, visit the Freedom Award’s website.

At our Annual Employment Law Seminar, U.S. Department of Labor Chief of Investigators Kenan Torrans gave an informative presentation on the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reinstatement Rights Act (USERRA). At the end of the presentation, I jumped in with my two cents and explained that I’d invited Kenan to speak because I think that USERRA compliance will be one of the biggest issues facing employers in the next several years.

One reason for my speculation is that USERRA differs from other employment-discrimination statutes in a number of ways. So employers who may not be familiar with USERRA’s specific requirements and attempt to comply by applying rules that are generally applicable to Title VII or the ADA may find themselves to have run afoul of the law.

Another reason for my worries is the statute of limitations or, more specifically, the lack of one. An employee could, for example, return from military service and seek reemployment. Let’s say the employer is unfamiliar with USERRA’s requirements and denies the employee’s request to return to work. The employee may find other work and the employer would think that all is well.

Memorial Day is more than a day off of work. The holiday is a time to remember those who have died in service to the country. One way we pay tribute to the men and women who died in military service is by observing a minute of silence at 3 pm today.

The Freedom Award is an example of the important ongoing effort to support military service members.The Freedom Award is the highest award given by the Department of Defense (DoD) to employers for exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees. A review board comprised of military and civilian leaders selected 30 finalists from more than 3,000 nominations. Two of the 30 finalists were selected for their support of Delaware reservists–Siemens Corporation in Washington, D.C., who was nominated by an Army Reservist in Glasgow, Delaware; and Kent County Levy Court in Dover, Delaware.

For readers outside Delaware, Dover is the home to the Dover Air Force Base, making the recruitment and retention of military-service members a key objective for employers in Dover and throughout Kent County. Kent County Levy Court was nominated by an employee serving in the Air Force Reserve. The Court supported Guard and Reserve members by regularly featuring a Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) question-and-answer section in its monthly newsletter. The Court also provides a quarterly dinner for families of deployed employees, as well as babysitting services.

Employer’s lawyers have seen an increasing number of questions regarding the obligations relating to employees and applicants returning from military service. There are two important laws that may apply to such individuals–the ADA and USERRA. Although the ADA has been on employer’s radar for years, most are less familiar with USERRA. Now is the time, though, to become familiar. The law imposes many obligations on employers and many of those obligations are different than other employment-discrimination laws.

The EEOC has published a new Guide for Employers titled, Veterans and the ADA. The Guide is intended to provide answers to some of the questions employers can be expected to face as veterans return home from military service and seek employment in the private sector. Some of the points covered by the Guide include:

  • What qualifies a disabled veteran for the protections of the ADA;

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on several important employment-law cases this term. Last week, we posted about the upcoming argument in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., in which the Court will address the requirements for an employee who claims retaliation based on the FLSA.

In this, the second part of this series, we look to an equally anticipated case, Staub v. Proctor HospitalStaub, like Kasten, is on appeal from the Seventh Circuit.  In Staub, the Supreme Court will examine   under what circumstances may an employer be held liable based on the unlawful intent of officials who caused or influenced, but did not make, the ultimate employment decision.

Staub sued his employer, alleging that he was discharged in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Staub prevailed after a jury trial. His employer appealed, and the Seventh Circuit reversed the trial decision.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), amended the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on January 1, 2008.  The NDAA is one of several laws that obligate employers to provide special protections to employees who are members of the Armed Forces.  The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), is another such law offering similar, but not identical protections to employees who serve in the uniformed services. 

In these times, military service is a reality for many employers who must navigate the labyrinth-like leave laws.  Employers also want to provide their employees with the support they need to transition successfully and safely between the workplace and active duty.  We’ve posted before about some of the many resources and services offered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), each of which is marketed towards a specific audience. 

Yet another resource provided by the DOL is specifically designed for military spouses and the special employment challenges they face as a result of their marital ties to the military. is an online library for military spouse employment, education, and relocation information.  The DOL provides links to employment-related information and other resources for military spouses and military families.  The site is a collaborative project between the DOL’s Women’s Bureau, the Employment and Training Administration, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, in cooperation with the Department of Defense.

USERRA Reemployment RightsThe latest headlines of the local newspaper, the News Journal underscore what is becoming the latest trend in employment lawsuits: military service discrimination.

On Wednesday, March 26, an Army lieutenant colonel serving in in Baghdad filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was fired from the Delaware State Police in violation of state and federal laws that protect military reservists from discrimination and retaliation because of their military service.

45-year-old Lt. Col. Keith W. Janowski claims that he encountered harassment, discrimination and retaliation because of his duties and obligations “as a citizen-soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve” during his 16 years on the state police force. He also alleges that after his return from active duty in 2003, he asked for retraining in civilian searches but was denied. He was fired in 2005 for conducting a improper search and exercising poor judgment, allegedly because he missed a pack of cigarettes during a search of a person.

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