For many service members, finding or returning to civilian employment after military service can be daunting. These difficulties may arise for a number of reasons — like civilians not understanding how military skills or experience translate to civilian jobs, lack of access to jobs at appropriate levels for a particular service member's experience, and/or employer discrimination, just to name a few. Luckily, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Armed Forces offer numerous protections and resources for service members as they transition out of uniformed service and into the civilian workforce.
While these programs and resources offer excellent opportunities for discharged service members, it is important to note that there are still times when unfair circumstances lead to a lack of employment. If you or a loved one are dealing with employment discrimination, the team at Patriots Law Group can help.
Under The Uniformed Services Employment Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), it is illegal for employers to deny jobs based on an individual's time in the military, whether past, present, or future. USERRA is designed to protect service members from potential discrimination. For example, eligible veterans, reserve members, and future service members who submit proper notification of their service commitments have the right to training, pay, seniority, and other employment benefits that would have built up if the employee did not take a leave of absence for military duties.
In some ways, USERRA protects experienced veterans from having to take entry-level or similar jobs that are under-representative of their skills, simply based on their lack of experience within the civilian workforce. On the other hand, USERRA does not require employers to hire past service members if they lack the basic skills required for a particular job — which is where programs like TAP come in.
The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is the Department of Labor's required curriculum for service members separating from the military. Under all branches of the military, service members have access to resources, workshops, and online curriculum designed to improve their skills and employment options in the time before they transition out of military service.
Some programs, like the Air Force's Career Skills Program (CSP) connect soon-to-be-veterans with internships, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training programs with a wide range of companies. In these programs, airmen receive vocational and technical instruction, build their skills, and gain real-world experience that help better prepare them for their civilian careers. These programs are completed during the last 180 days before an airman's official last day with the Air Force, and many temporary positions have a chance of turning into full-time positions.
“There are no rank or term restrictions,” said Jose Ontiveros, 802nd Forces Support Squadron CSP coordinator. “Officers or enlisted, separating or retiring are eligible, as long as the service member is expecting at least a good conduct discharge.”
Similarly, if you are approaching your good conduct discharge date, there are many resources available to help you build your skills and find civilian employment after you finish service. Here are a few we've collected to help you start your journey:
- Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS): The U.S. Department of Labor's service dedicated to helping veterans, servicemembers, and their family members find good jobs.
- TAOnline, Careers for the Transitioning Military: A comprehensive Transition Assistance database, featuring many helpful resources, like this lookup service for finding TAP offices near you.
- Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Overview from the DOL: The DOL's official page for VETS and TAP services offers many helpful links for registering for TAP workshops and utilizing TAP curriculum, for all branches of the military.
- VA Transition Assistance Program (TAP): The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' online portal for TAP resources, employment opportunities, and VA benefits.
How can we help?
If you or a loved one are facing employment discrimination due to military service, your status within a protected class, or other illegal circumstances, Patriots Law Group is here to help. We offer years of assistance in dealing with administrative bodies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). We will fight for your cause and help you reach the best resolution possible for you and your family. Call Patriots Law Group at 301-952-9000 if you believe an employer has discriminated against you due to your military service.
DISCLAIMER: The information above is for general informational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this information. Each individual situation is different and therefore a formal in-person consultation is necessary before any specific advice may be relied upon as appropriate and accurate for a given situation. Please call Patriots Law Group at 301-952-9000 to set up a consultation if you wish to obtain specific legal advice you may rely upon. We serve clients anywhere in the world, with in-person consultations available at our Suitland, MD office — right next to Andrews Air Force Base — for clients in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.