Signs of Discrimination Against Veterans at Work

Aug 25, 2017
By Peter Friedmann

Donna Ballman compiled what a Google search reveals to be the definitive list of “7 Signs of Discrimination Against Veterans at Work” for Finance back in 2012. Click on the article’s title to learn the details. In a slightly condensed fashion, former members of the Armed Forces, Reserves, or National Guard need to be on the lookout for:


  • Being told a posted job is no longer available after employer becomes aware of veteran status;
  • Hearing a recruiter or interviewer say the company prefers not to hire veterans;
  • Unexplained or unequally applied reductions in vacation time to veterans;
  • Harassment related to military service, such as derogatory nicknames, expressions of distrust or distaste for military actions, or repeated insensitive questions about deployments;
  • Denying employment opportunities, benefits, or promotions to disabled veterans;
  • Refusing to grant paid and unpaid medical leave.


A veteran who experiences any of these problems while searching for a job or while working as an employee should speak with a Columbus, Ohio, military discrimination attorney to learn if grounds exist for filing a complaint with a state or federal agency. Successful claims for discrimination can result in reemployment, compensation and monetary damages, and court-ordered changes to the policies and practices of an employer.


Laws that protect men and women who serve or served the United States as a member of the armed forced include the following:


  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which requires employers to treat Reserve and National Guard members called to active duty as regular employees for the purposes of continued employment, promotion eligibility, benefits, and tenure/seniority. The most important protection veterans have under USERRA is return to work. Employers must allow a person called to active duty to return to his or her same job or to a job similar to the one he or she left when the veteran comes off a deployment lasting less than five years.


  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it illegal for an employer to demote, refuse to hire, deny promotions to, or fire a person because he or she may need a reasonable accommodation to perform one or more tasks related to his or her job. Proving disability discrimination is often easier than showing that a requested accommodation such as extra time off between shifts or the installation of special equipment is reasonable in terms of expense to an employer. Working with an experienced discrimination lawyer to put together an ADA case is a must.


  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires most employers to give employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per 12-month period to deal with a personal or family health problem. It cannot be denied except under strictly applied criteria.


  • Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which amends USERRA to explicitly prohibit harassment based on veteran status. This act also expands and consolidates a number of earlier federal programs aimed at easing veterans’ return to civilian life following discharge or retirement, assisting disabled veterans, and incentivizing employers to hire and retain employees who served in the military.


Other federal laws may apply to particular cases. Two of the most relevant are Title VII of the Civil Rights of Act of 1964, which outlaws job discrimination on the basis of personal characteristics like race or religion, and Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment in educational settings. Title VII, the ADA, Title IX, and even the GI Bill offer overlapping protections, so seeking the advice of a lawyer regarding a potential discrimination or harassment complaint is generally a good idea. Going to the wrong agency or regulator with an initial complaint can make receiving justice more difficult down the road.


Ohio follows the federal government’s lead in protecting veterans from employment discrimination and harassment at work. If you need to talk to a Columbus military discrimination attorney, consider reaching out to the Friedmann Firm for a no-cost and confidential consultation. You can request an appointment online or set up a meeting over the phone by calling 614.610.9755.