A new law makes it absolutely critical for you to retain records of how you handled any hiring process involving military veterans.
When Congress passed the Veterans’ Benefit Improvement Act (VBIA) last year, military service men and women gained greater rewards for serving their country. Among the provisions in the new law was a largely unnoticed expansion of the time period veterans have to sue employers or prospective employers for violating the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Those covered by USERRA now can sue at any time, no matter how long ago an employer allegedly violated their rights. That means you should keep supporting documentation indefinitely. Fortunately, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the VBIA isn’t retroactive.
Recent case: Charles Middleton was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1989. Four years later, he applied for a job with the city of Chicago. He was turned down in November 1994.
More than a decade later, Middleton sued the city, alleging it had violated USERRA when it refused to hire him.
A trial court dismissed Middleton’s case, concluding that a federal four-year statute of limitations applied. Then Congress passed VBIA, and Middleton went back to court, arguing the new law said he could sue at any time, with no limitations.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. It said VBIA wasn’t retroactive and that the unlimited time to sue was only good for claims arising after the law was enacted in October 2008. (Middleton v. City of Chicago, No. 08-2806, 7th Cir., 2009)
Final note: If you aren’t familiar with USERRA, now is a good time to review its requirements. The law applies to current and past service men and women.
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