How Veterans Can Protect Themselves From Workplace Discrimination in Ohio

January 22, 2021
By Peter Friedmann

Federal law ensures that veterans have the right to hold civilian jobs and be free from discrimination in the workplace.  These federal protections extend to any active duty military personnel, including those in the Army Reserves and National Guard. An employer in Ohio who violate veterans’ rights can be held accountable and may be ordered to pay financial damages to the worker they discriminated against.  Reinstatement of employment may also be secured as part of a settlement or civil trial jury award.

Protecting your rights as a veteran often requires partnering with an experienced Ohio employment law attorney. The lawyer will know which laws apply to your situation and will be able to guide you as you prepare formal complaints, collect evidence, and consider your options for settling your claim or moving forward with a lawsuit. An employee rights attorney can also work to prevent or take legal action against retaliation if you are retaliated against for being a member of the military.

Veterans’ Employment Rights Under USERRA

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Right Act—which is almost always shortened to USERRA (YOU-sara) for obvious reasons—ensures that veterans, reservists and guardsmen can find and hold jobs with private companies or government agencies. The law explicitly prohibits using a person’s past or current military service as the principal reason for denying employment, refusing promotions and benefits, or making assignments and calculating pay.

USERRA also requires employers to accommodate regularly scheduled leave for Guard or Reserves training and to hold jobs for guardsmen and reservists who get called to active duty. When a person returns from deployment, their civilian employer must make every effort to restore the individual to their previous position or to put them into a position with equivalent pay, perks, and seniority.

Employees’ rights under USERRA do not enforce themselves, however. For instance, a guardsman or reservist who gets called to active duty must ensure that their employer receives formal notice of their deployment.

When you suspect your employer is violating your rights under USERRA, the first step is to speak with human resources or a trusted supervisor. Each employer is required to have well-defined procedures for receiving, investigating, and resolving complaints of discrimination against veterans.

If we determine that your employer has violated the law, a lawsuit may be the most logical next step.

Veterans’ Employment Rights Under Federal Disability Laws

Since many veterans leave the military with partial or total disabilities, they often have employment protections under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. Attorneys with The Friedmann Firm welcome opportunities to advise and represent Ohio workers who experience disability discrimination.

We discuss these issues in much greater detail elsewhere on our website. What is probably most important for veterans to know is that the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act prohibit employers from refusing to interview, hire, or promote workers who have obvious or suspected disabilities. This includes concerns employers may have about “hidden” disabilities such as traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veterans must also know that employers are bound by law to consider requests for accommodations of disabilities in good faith when employees are fully qualified to do a job but need a change to equipment, scheduling, or supervision. Managers and supervisors cannot dismiss accommodation requests out of hand or penalize workers for requesting accommodations.

Let attorneys at the Columbus offices of The Friedmann Firm know how they can help you address discrimination against you as a veteran. We take appointments for free and confidential consultations online. Call 614.610.9755 to speak with a lawyer directly.