The equal employment act for Military and Veterans is a topic widely discussed since it addresses the importance of the men and women who have presented their services in a diligent way to defend their country while putting their life at risk for the safety of their homeland. These people that have sacrificed a lot for their nation need not be present in the queue of unemployment after returning back home. However, it seems evident that these men and women have to go through the hardship of finding employment after being discharged from the military. There have been many programs that the government has initiated that bring forth importance for the employment of military personnel and veteran who are seeking employment in the civil market. Most of the military people are found to be having issues with transforming their military experience into civilian experience to match the work requirements.
The issue of unemployment among the military people has been on the rise for the last few years and has gained the attention of concerning government bodies to take a proper remedial action towards it. To safeguard employment options for military personal, certain federal and state laws have been put in place to secure the rights to employment for the retired military individuals that are currently seeking employment in the civilian sector. Among the Acts introduced by the government include USERRA and VOW that have been accommodating the needs of military personal.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act presents the conceptual idea of particular responsibilities and selected rights that apply to uniformed service members and the employers in the civilian sector. Under the stated rules of USERRA Act, it provides a descriptive explanation to safeguard the civilian employment rights and the benefits of it for veterans and applicable for other Armed forces members a well. The Act ensures that the military personnel that are returning from active duty to be reemployed in the civilian department should be given an equal or comparatively equal position in the civilian sector, along with the same applicable benefits. To be able to apply for the USERRA protection an individual is needed to have the following,
- Provide their employer with an advance notice of their military service
- Must have at least five years of military service experience for the duration of time with a certain employer
- Must not have an dishonorable discharge or any other criteria that is contrary of a honorable discharge
- Must reapply for employment in a proper timely manner
The United States Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS) is assigned to provide their services incorporating the laws of USERRA. VETS has the authority to look into issues that arise from USERRA violations and to resolve them accordingly. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is another resource that provides information and assistance in implementing USERRA. ESGRA comes under the Department of Defense and is tasked with performing the operations of notifying and spread awareness of the rights to the service members and their civilian employers (Christian 2012). The awareness program aims at educating them about the rights and responsibilities that come directly under the USERRA Act. However ESGR is not responsible for imposing USERRA but can procure Ombudsman Service Program which can be employed to resolve issues or disputes that might occur among the service members and their immediate civilian employers.
States Laws concerning Service Member Employment
There are several state laws that work along with federal laws and are present to protect the employment rights of service members and veterans. These state laws are aimed at providing a proper way to resolve issues and to minimize the disruptions caused to the lives of the military service members or their careers. The state law serves as a safeguard rights to employment for the service members and these are applicable on those that come under the direct obligation of the state authority, such as the National Guard that are assigned to the duty of an active State duty. A descriptive version of these rights are written and published by the Attorney General Office, aimed at clarifying the laws associated with employment and reemployment notion.
A proper analysis of the information sheet provided by the Attorney General Office, states that it is highly illegal to deny employment, reemployment or the acquisition of the employment benefits to those that are affiliated with military and service the obligations of military service. Another condition that follows is that people that leave their career to adhere the call to serve their nation, will be allowed to be reemployed at their previous position upon return. Although certain conditions must be met before reassigning the individual their previous position,
- It is to be ascertained that the employer has not undergone any changes that may make reemployment difficult or the criteria to be unreasonable.
- The condition of reemployment must not become a burden or impose hardship on the employer.
- It needs to be ascertained that previous employment was not temporary.
Certain State Law conditions need to be fulfilled before the individual can claim protection. These conditions include,
- Present a timely or a notice of their military service in advance to the employer
- Is able to provide documents that are a proof of satisfactory employment in the uniformed services
- Prepare a proper application for the employer, addressing the requirement of reemployment inclusive of service type and duration.
All things considered in the points presented above, State Law also adds that any individual being reemployed will have their case treated as leave of absence. Furthermore they will be able to retain their seniority, vacations, insurance and any other benefits listed in their employment contract.
State Law addressing Employment Discrimination
The conditions presented by Washington’s proposed Law Act to deal with Discrimination against employees who have been honorably discharged from their uniformed service. The law further presents stated laws that restrict any and all forms of discrimination applicable to employment, similarly applying to the housing, all forms of public accommodation, and all forms of lending and credit taking (Parker 2012). Under the proposed conditions of the Law it states that all honorably discharged military status people and veterans, any reserve members belonging to any branch in the military department are entitled to enjoy the full extent of this law to resolve the cases of discrimination that may be aimed at them. These military service members have the exclusive right to lodge or file a complaint and have the right to approach Human Rights Commission (HRC).
State Laws concerning Military Family Leave Act
The Washington State’s introduced and implemented the Family Military Leave Act under which any spouse of a military service member is applicable of applying for a fifteen days of unpaid leave at the time of the service member’s deployment. To avail this unpaid leave, the spouse of military service member must apply prior to the deployment of the service member or at the time when the service member leaves for the deployment. These fifteen days can be divided to accommodate the need of the military service member’s spouse.
The proper method of applying for this leave includes the service member’s spouse to notify or approach their employer five days prior to the service member receiving any notification of their deployment, being called to active duty or at the time of leave from their designated deployment (Lewison 2004). Applicants that fit the previously mentioned criteria need to be have at least 20 hours of per week service. All of the disputes associated with Military Family Leave Act come directly under Washington State Law’s and are resolved accordingly.
State Law for Veteran Preferences
The State Laws provides an explanation concerning the veterans that are disabled or have served a considerable amount of period in the Armed Forces for an accountable amount of time, or have participated in the military campaigns will be given preference over non-veterans at the time of employment and will be considered for retention policies as well.
The Washington State Law’s present a detailed description for the laws stating special preference for the veterans that have both served and sacrificed for their nation. These veterans are capable of applying for the positions in the state, political subdivisions or any form of municipal organization. The law further states that if these individuals are presented with a competitive examination than they are capable of owning five to ten points to their final score in that particular examination. State Law also enables the spouses of these veterans or the spouses with service connected disability of these veterans are to be preferred for public employment options.
In year 2011, Washington became first to declare the state laws under which employers were ordered to provide employment options for the military service members who were previously honorably discharged or veterans. This law further includes a clear understanding that these employment conditions are fulfilling all voluntary criteria and are in no way in breach of any forms of violations of state or law regarding equal employment opportunity. The employers that employ the services of any veterans will also be qualifying for the conditions of tax credit.
Veterans Opportunity to Work Act
The Veteran Opportunity to Work Act or otherwise known as VOW Act was enacted and signed by President Obama on 22nd of November, 2011. Under this Act it is made necessary for federal agencies to deal with active service members as veterans, or veterans with a disability, and the candidates fulfilling the requirements to be given preference for employment in a competitive environment. A common question that arises is why VOW Act was enacted or the reason behind its enactment? VOW Act was enacted to facilitate the service members before they were honorably discharged from their services or the individuals that have been released from their active duty but don’t own a DD form 214, a certificate that certifies their release or discharge from Active Duty. The VOW Act accommodates these individuals at the time of employment for Federal Jobs (Ogles 2012). These individuals right to have these opportunities then become safeguarded by the VOW Act. These individuals are required to own a certificate as a documented proof of their service and release from the uniformed services. This Certificate is a legal proof that the individual in question for the employment, has been honorably discharged or released from their active service as a uniformed individual. The certificate houses is generally prepared before the release or discharge of the active service member, not any sooner than 120 days.
The normal trend that follows in the military services is that of the military service person applying for civilian jobs before their immediate release or discharge from their active service. These individuals are normally without a DD form 214 at the time of job application submission. The VOW Act’s enactment is to make sure that these individuals may not lose their job options because of this factor and under the stated law will be given preference in federal jobs or services.
Under the signed Act of Veteran Act on November 21st, 2011, the legislation states that any and all veterans are to be provided with assistance in employment search and accommodating them in acquisition of the selected employment, as well as training them to be skillful for the preferred job to help reduce the unemployment among the veterans. The Act brings forth two valid and valuable points,
- The first point is related to the fact of tax credits applicable to civil employers that are likely to employ the veteran candidate. These amounts vary based on the duration in consideration of the veteran’s unemployment period. For the period of four weeks of veteran’s unemployment will value to a total of $ 2,400, a six month period will value up to a total amount of $ 5,600, and in the case of a disabled veteran that has been unemployed for a period of six months or longer to value up till $ 9,600 (Fernandez 2001).
- The second point in the Act states that the Act will provide amendments to USERRA’s anti-discriminatory provision policy in an exemplary way. USERRA is responsible for providing job security to the uniformed service members and to prohibit and eliminate any discrimination towards their employment policy, and affirming job confirmation for active service military personnel to be reemployed at their previous positions. Furthermore it explains the law’s implication to private and public sectors, along with Federal employers as well.
In scenarios before the enactment of this Act, courts were unable to pinpoint or establish a reason for action towards work environments, coming under USERRA, exhibiting a hostile work nature. The proposed Act therefore brings about a change in parallel to amending USERRA that adds a limitation to discriminations in regards to terms and conditions or privileges provided in employment. It is safe to say that VOW Act stands in place to promote, safeguard and further expand the laws stated under the USERRA Act.
Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is based on the concept of providing help to the military service members that are about to be released from their active duty. This assistance comes in the form of educating them about the relevant skills needed to apply for these jobs in the civilian employment market. This program has been noted to be successful and complies with the conditions of the Act, as well as attendance being mandatory for the service members according to VOW Act.
Training and Education
According to the condition presented by the post 9-11 G1 bill states that many of the veterans are found to be getting secondary education in comparison to previous years. In the data collected for analysis, it was seen that around forty eight percent of veterans were found to be using benefits of this education from a four year program, enrolled in a college or a university. Around thirty three percent were enrolled in a two year program in a university, among them eight percent of them were enrolled in a graduate program in a school. Eleven percent were availing a short term on-job-training sessions or going through the course of apprenticeship.
This program is essentially more beneficial since it provided valuable assistance to veterans in acquisition of skills that proved to be useful in employment search. The G1 bill stated a total of 100,000 veterans to be given employment as well. Furthermore the state governors were anointed funds that will assist them in better facilitating the veterans. Part of this fund is aimed to initiate training course programs for military service members.
National Guard and Reserve
Under the VOW Act it honors the services offered by the National Guard and Reserve, among which fourteen percent were found to be unemployed only. According to the stated law (similar to USERRA) at the time of being called to service, their employer is required to reemploy them on their return. However, in this particular scenario things did not work the same way. In this regard, VOW Act’s enactment made sure to reinforce and protect the policies presented by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Certification and Licensing
In spite of most American’s military are in possession of most well-trained professionals. However, being unable to be properly credited or licensed in their respective fields makes these women and men less than capable of acquiring meaningful and beneficial employment options that may have enabled them to implement their military training. Among the professionals that are applying for the job include people from medical profession, drivers and technicians. These people become incapable of applying for their relevant jobs if their learned skills are not applicable in the civilian job market. Such individuals will be then in need of proper certifications and licensing that enables them to fulfill a prosperous role in their civilian employment after their honorable discharge from military active service.
In conclusion it can be stated that the United States government has brought attention towards the growing concern in the unemployment criteria for military personnel and the veterans. Among the programs that were introduced under the Act of VOW, that was signed by ex-President Obama, which are focused towards the military service members and veterans. The VOW Act it honors the services offered by the National Guard and Reserve, among which fourteen percent were found to be unemployed only. According to the stated law (similar to USERRA) at the time of being called to service, their employer is required to reemploy them on their return. From the perspective of USERRA these state laws are aimed at providing a proper way to resolve issues and to minimize the disruptions caused to the lives of the military service members or their careers. The state law serves as a safeguard rights to employment for the service members and these are applicable on those that come under the direct obligation of the state authority, such as the National Guard that are assigned to the duty of an active State duty. Although the VOW ACT is presented to bring forth as a reinforced version for USERRA’s policies to be implemented and practiced in a sound way. Most of the unemployment cases were aimed at discrimination against employees who have been honorably discharged from their uniformed service. The law further presents stated laws that restrict any and all forms of discrimination applicable to employment, similarly applying to the housing, all forms of public accommodation, and all forms of lending and credit taking. The USERRA also provides guidance towards the Family Military Leave Act under which any spouse of a military service member is applicable of applying for a fifteen days of unpaid leave at the time of the service member’s deployment. These two Acts namely Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act as well as Veteran Opportunity Act are aimed towards bringing valid employment opportunities for the men and women that have served the nation and continue to prove as a valid resource for the nation in the civilian job market as well.
Christian, B. E. (2012). Hire a Hero, Enjoy the Benefits: New Incentives for Hiring Disabled and Unemployed Military Veterans. Journal of Accountancy, 213(5), 54.
Fernandez, A. P. (2001). The Need for the Expansion of Military Reservists’ Rights in Furtherance of the Total Force Policy: A Comparison of the USERRA and ADA. . Thomas L. Rev., 14, 859.
Lewison, J. (2004). Military call-up prompts focus on USERRA. Journal of Accountancy, 197(1), 76.
Ogles, D. (2012). Life during (and after) Wartime: Enforceability of Waivers under USERRA. The University of Chicago Law Review, 79(1), 387-425.
Parker, Y. (2012). VOW to hire veterans offers new incentives for employers and expanded benefits for veterans. Employment Relations Today, 39(2), 27-37.