There are eight military bases in South Carolina serving every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces except the Coast Guard. Servicemembers and veterans make up a large portion of the state’s population—but sometimes, their needs as civilian employees are slightly different than those of an average worker. Failure to meet those needs may constitute as discrimination in certain situations. Discriminating against military servicemembers or veterans is unlawful, and if it happens to you, you may be able to seek compensation from your employer.
The main law that governs the employment rights of military members and veterans in the U.S. is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). It grants protection to civilian employees who leave work to serve in the military, or those who serve intermittently as reservists. USERRA requires that employees who temporarily leave work to serve in any branch of the U.S. military get their civilian job back afterward, assuming that certain criteria are met:
- You ensure that your employer has advance notice of your service
- You have five cumulative years or less in uniformed service while with your current employer
- You apply for a return to work within the allotted time after your service concludes
- You have not been “separated from the service” with a less than honorable discharge
If your employer rehires you, it must be at your old job with the same pay and benefits. Or, if that job is not available or has ceased to exist, a comparable position must be found.
Ways To Seek Redress
In addition to being rehired at your old job after your service has concluded, USERRA also grants you the right to be free of discrimination in re-employment, initial employment, promotion, or any other “benefit of employment.” This also includes those trying to assist people in fighting for their rights under USERRA, even if they have no connection to the armed services. If you suspect your employer of having perpetrated USERRA violations against you, you can file a complaint.
Unlike with most other types of employment discrimination claims, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not handle discrimination claims based on military status, so there is no need to file a charge with them. These types of complaints are filed with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). Alternatively, you can seek to file a civil lawsuit against your employer for USERRA violations. Either way, consulting an experienced attorney can be a great help in determining how you want to handle your particular situation.
Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney
Discriminating against military servicemembers or veterans is unlawful. If this has been your experience, contacting an experienced South Carolina employment discrimination attorney can help you understand your options going forward. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and the firm of Hitchcock & Potts have handled these types of cases before, and are ready to assist you with yours. Contact us today to set up a consultation.