Veterans are Employees Too
As employers salute and honor veterans today, employers should also review whether they are doing all they can to guard against veteran discrimination. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) “protects members of the military from discrimination and retaliation in employment on the basis of their military service.” Wooldridge v. City of Melbourne, No. 6:14-cv-55-Orl-40TBS, 2015 WL 4250491, at *3 (M.D. Fla. July 13, 2015); see also Staub v. Proctor Hosp., 562 U.S. 411 (2011); Coffman v. Chugach Support Servs., Inc., 411 F.3d 1231(11th Cir. 2005). Like other anti-discrimination statutes, the USERRA is construed broadly and liberally to protect veterans from inequitable employment practices. Wooldridge, 2015 WL 4250491, at *3 (citing Coffman, 411 F.3d at 1238). USERRA actions endure a burden shifting framework. That is, “there must be an initial showing by the employee that military status was at least a motivating or substantial factor in the [employer] action, upon which the [employer] must prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that the action would have been taken despite the protected status.” Coffman, 411 F.3d at 1239 (quoting Sheehan v. Dep’t of Navy, 240 F.3d 1009, 1014 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).
Beyond the strict requirements of the law, treating veterans with respect will almost always be good for business and employee morale.