Posts Tagged ‘returning veterans’

DOL Recovers $3K for Fired Service Member

The U.S. Department of Justice came to the rescue of a member of the Air National Guard who was denied reemployment in her civilian job following her tour of duty.

Staff Sgt. Anber Ishmael’s military service was a motivating factor in BioFusion’s decisions to deny her request for remployment and to terminate her employment, the DOJ alleged.

Those actions were violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, the DOJ charged. That law safeguards the rights of uniformed servicemembers to return to their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations and protects servicemembers from discrimination on the basis of their military obligations.

DOJ said that the company agreed to pay $3,000 in backpay to settle the matter.

The DOJ’s announcement of the settlement was silent on whether Ishmael will get her job back.

“The United States has a solemn obligation to ensure that those selfless Americans who serve in the nation’s Armed Forces enjoy every opportunity to advance their civilian careers,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio.  “The Department of Justice will be unwavering in protecting the rights of our nation’s service members and we will continue to hold accountable employers who violate those rights.”

Settlement Restores Lost Pension Payments to United Airline Pilots Returning From Military Duty

Pilots returning from military service got justice last week in the form of a settlement restoring the full amount they were due in contributions to their pension plans–another reminder of how the law can be used in positive ways to impact veterans’ lives.

In one of the largest settlements ever reached under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reeemployment Act (USERRA), United Airlines last week agreed to pay $6 million to make up for shortfalls in the pensions of pilots who were returning from duty in the National Guard and Reserves.

The settlement will benefit about 1,160 reservists, most of them pilots, who were called up for active-duty service for more than 30 days between 2000 and 2010 while working for the airline.

At issue was United’s contributions to the employees’ 401(k) pension accounts. Under USERRA, companies must continue to provide routine contributions to retirement accounts during reservists’ military service.

United Airlines was providing mobilized reservists with pension contributions that were too small, calculating the amount based on a minimum wage for union employees rather than the individual employees’ actual salaries or wages immediately prior to deployment, according to a lawsuit filed by the employees.

You can read more about the lawsuit and settlement in the Navy Times.

To learn more about the laws and some economic incentives regarding hiring of returning veterans, see my post from last year’s Memorial Day

Laws, Tax Credits Aim to Make Life Better for Veterans Returning to Civilian Employment

This Memorial Day is not only an opportunity to recognize the valor and sacrifice of soldiers who gave their lives in defense of this country, but also to renew our efforts to make sure veterans get employment when they return and that they are treated fairly on the job. Here’s a rundown of what our laws require vis-a-vis returning veterans.

Ban on Discrimination: Employers are prohibited under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act from discriminating in employment against service members upon their return from a period of military service. The laws includes protections for National Guard and reserve call-ups. The law is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS).

Affirmative Action: The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act–or VEVRAA-federal contractors must take affirmative action to hire and promote qualified veterans, including disabled veterans. Despite the law’s name, its protections are not limited to Vietnam Era veterans. They also encompass disabled veterans and veterans who serve in military campaigns for which a campaign badge has been authorized by the Department of Defense. This statute is enforced by DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Neither of these laws, however, can compel an employer to hire a veteran. The veterans’ unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. To make a dent in that problem, the federal government provides a Work Opportunity Tax Credit to give employers a financial incentive to hire veterans. The credit, which was enacted in 2011, has been extended to the end of 2013.

This tax credit is for hiring the following eligible veterans:

• Short-term Unemployed: A new credit of 40% of the first $6,000 of wages (up to $2,400) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for at least 4 weeks.

• Long-term Unemployed: A new credit of 40% of the first $14,000 of wages (up to $5,600) for employers who hire veterans who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for longer than 6 months.Wounded Warrior Tax Credit

• Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: Maintains the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit for veterans with service-connected disabilities hired within one year of being discharged from the military. The credit is 40% of the first $12,000 of wages (up to $4,800).

• Long-Term Unemployed Veterans with Services-Connected Disabilities: A new credit of 40% of the first $24,000 of wages (up to $9,600) for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been in receipt of unemployment compensation for longer than 6 months.The credit can be as high as $9,600 per veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for tax-exempt organizations.

Dont let these obligations and opportunities go to waste. Treat veterans the right way–and hire more of them–and they and the nation will benefit.

Federal Government Should Do Better Job in Obeying USERRA

When it comes to complying with the nation’s employment protection laws, the federal government is supported to be the model employer. It’s supposed to set the standard that all others should try to match.

It seems the government has fallen down on the job when it comes to the right of returning military veterans to resume their careers in the civilian sector.

The Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Act forbids employers from penalizing service members because of their military service. In short, they cannot disadvantage service members because of their time spent in uniform.

Yet, in some cases, the Post reported, the U.S. government has withdrawn job offers to service members unable to get released from active duty fast enough; in others, service members have been fired after services.

Major offenders include the Defense Department, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Postal Service.

Need a primer on USERRA? Try this from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which enforces the law.