Government employees, like all other workers, now have the right to file claims for job protection under USERRA.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) entitles returning veterans to reemployment if they have been away from their jobs on military duty for less than 5 years. Under some circumstances that may even be longer.
Sometimes, the returning veteran needs to file a claim to get that job protection. It is that ability to file a claim that has been extended to government employees. The procedure is different from the non-governmental worker, however.
With the new regulations released by the U.S. Department of Labor, this is the time for employers to update their Vermont USERRA posters.
For both governmental and non-governmental workers, the claims process starts in the same way. Step one is filing a claim under the USERRA regulation through the Veterans Employment Training Service or VETS. Then VETS, a division of the Labor Department, issues a finding on the facts.
Most of the time, that’s the end of the process for most cases. Usually, if the worker has been away for less than 5 years on military duty, VETS finds that they are entitled to their old job. Sometimes that is extended to 7 years. Most employers then agree to the finding and rehire the employee.
However, sometimes the employer does not rehire. Then the worker takes it a step further.
Non-governmental workers may take their claims to the U.S. Department of Justice, which will take on the case in a federal District Court. There will be no cost to the employee. The employee may be awarded damages if the court finds that the employer was willfully violating the regulation.
For government employees, the path is to the Office of Special Counsel rather than the Justice Department. The Merit Systems Protection Board then reviews the case, and again damages may be awarded.
Employers should be aware that updated Vermont USERRA posters must be displayed, by law, regardless of whether there are employees serving in the military or not.
At least once a day, I have to remind you employers out there not to fear the new hire reporting system. And yes, Vermont employers, you have basically the same new hire system that all states have. The Vermont Department of Labor is charged with keeping track of all of these new hire reports.
They are the ones who match the new hire reports again the Vermont list of parents who don’t pay child support. They also run the new hire list against the lists of folks who receive various type of social welfare aid. The Vermont Department of Labor then send your new hire info the National Directory of New Hires, which allows the feds to track down delinquent parents wherever they are at not paying their child support payments.
And to keep track and follow the new hire reporting labor laws in the state of Vermont, you must report new hires within 20 days of their first day on the job. You must provide the employee’s name, address, social security number, and the day that the employee actually started working. You must also provide your company name, and your company address, as well as your employer federal ID number.
And that comes back to my point: do not fear the new hire reporting as some difficult administrative task that your human resource department must carry out. It is an important task, no doubt.
But if you have all of your employee files on hand in their proper organization within your file system, you should have no problem tracking down and submitting this information. Forms that you already have on hand—like the employment application, interview evaluation, resume, employment offer and acknowledgement—these all have the new hire’s necessary info on them. So just keep track of those, and you will have no problem reporting your new hires.