USERRA is a federal statute that protect the civilian employment rights of service members and veterans, and define the obligation of the service member returning from military service. The purpose of the act, which went into effect on October 13, 1994, was to ensure that servicemen who were called away to complete military service were able to return to their civilian jobs after they had completed their military service. This act also prohibits any form of discrimination based on their past or present service in the military or on an employee’s application for membership to the military (The United States Department of Justice, 2015).
An employee that believes they have been discriminated against by their employer would file a claim with the Department of Labor through the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). If the Secretary is not able to resolve the complaint, an employee may request that the Secretary refer the complaint to the Attorney General (AG). The Attorney General has the authority to bring legal action against any private individual, company, state, or local authority for violations of the Act.
If the Attorney General is satisfied that the complainant is entitled to the rights or benefits they are seeking, then the Attorney General may act as attorney on behalf of the service person. These proceedings would commence in a federal court against anyone found to be in violation of the Act. The Civil Rights Division can also represent the Attorney General in court to defend the service person.
Thus, it is the responsibility of the employer—both state and non-state— to ensure that no form of discrimination is suffered by a uniformed service person serving in his civilian capacity as an employee in the workplace. Organizations can achieve this by incorporating this act into their corporate policy.
For HR managers and supervisors to effectively manage talent, they should understand the basics of these federal laws and regulations and how they relate to the workplace. Employees influence the success of any business, and protecting their rights under these laws enables them to be productive. It also helps HR professionals to promote the organization’s brand and reputation as an employer. Knowing the laws that protect both employers and employees allows HR managers and supervisors to keep organizational goals and objectives on the right track.