Many people know that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA) applies to current employers. But did you know that USERRA applies to potential future employers as well?
USERRA prohibits discrimination in employment based on an individual's prior service in the uniformed services; current service in the uniformed services; or intent to join the uniformed services. While USERRA requires current employers to reemploy eligible veterans returning from military service, USERRA also prohibits potential employers from discriminating against service members based on future military service.
Recently, the retail giant Walmart agreed to revise its hiring policies and pay back-wages to a Navy reservist who said the store refused to hire her because of her military duties. According to a story published on military.com, the reservist applied for a job with Walmart in 2016 and told the hiring official during a phone interview that she would need two weeks off per year for mandatory annual training. Court documents stated the Walmart official “responded that summer was a busy time at Walmart, the store needed someone who would be there, and that Walmart could not support Hunger's absence for two weeks.”
When Walmart did not hire her or call her back, the reservist filed a complaint with the United States Department of Labor. According to a Department of Justice press release, the Department of Labor referred the case to the Department of Justice after an investigation. The press release continued:
As part of the settlement, which includes backpay for Petty Officer Hunger, Walmart has agreed to review and revise its employment and internal hiring policies across the corporation. It has also agreed to revise the policies to include the following language: “Walmart prohibits discrimination against individuals, including applicants, based on their military service (including required military training obligations) or membership in the uniformed services.” Walmart will also ensure that “all supervisors, managers, and administrative staff” in the Grand Junction, Colorado store at issue receive training — developed in consultation with the United States — “on the requirements of USERRA and on employees' and service members' rights and obligations under the statute.”
At the Patriots Law Group, we understand the juggle service members face between their military obligations and their civilian employment (whether it be a private employer or a local, state or federal employer). Let us assist you in ensuring your USERRA rights are preserved by scheduling your consultation today at 301-952-9000. You can also find out more about USERRA in our previous “USERRA 101” post.
Matt Osborn is an attorney with PLG who has dedicated his practice to the military community. Matt handles court-martial appeals and represents military members and veterans fighting for their rights through the military administrative system. Call 301-952-9000 to schedule a consultation. You can review Matt's bio here
DISCLAIMER: The information above is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice for any particular situation. No attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this information and may not be relied upon based on the above-statements. Each individual situation is different and therefore a consultation is necessary before any advice can be relied upon as appropriate and accurate for your situation. This information is current as of February 13, 2020.