It’s do as we say, not as we do when it comes to complying with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). A Washington Post investigation found that federal government agencies account for 18% of all USERRA complaints filed by returning service members.
The complaints range from employees who were penalized for being absent from their jobs when they were on active duty, to federal agencies that simply refused to hire returning vets when they return from deployments.
The federal government is the largest single employer of military reservists, 14% of whom work for Uncle Sam.
During federal fiscal year 2010, the Department of Labor sought legal action on 43 USERRA cases involving federally employed reservists. But the Department of Justice only pursued three of them.
While USERRA applies to both private and public employers, federal employees actually have fewer rights than their private-sector counterparts. Federal employees may sue federal agencies, but only to recover lost wages and seek reinstatement to their former jobs. Reservists who work for private employers can be awarded double damages if they show they suffered willful discrimination.
Note: The report cites lack of supervisor training as the main reason behind federal agency violations. Employers should train supervisors and anyone handling employment and re-employment situations about USERRA requirements.