Are you a government worker trying to return to your old job after serving in the military?
If so, you may want to know about a new USERRA regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Labor recently.
The regulation extends to government workers the right to file claims for employers’ alleged violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act of 1994. The process begins with the same steps that non-governmental employees use, but the appeals procedure is different.
West Virginia USERRA posters should be updated to reflect the change.
All returning veterans begin by filing a claim with the Veterans Employment and Training ACT, or VETS, part of the Labor Department. Most of the time, VETS issues a finding in favor of the employee if the facts of the case show he or she was missing from the workplace for less than 5 years. Sometimes that eligibility is extended to 7 years. Once VETS issues a finding, most managers comply.
It’s at this point, if an appeal must be launched, that your approach is different if you’re a government or U.S. Postal Service worker. Your claim is referred to the Office of Special Counsel. The Merit Systems Protection Board reviews the claim and may award you damages. If you’re employed by a federal intelligence agency, the claim would go to the Inspector General of your agency. There is no charge to you.
For civilian employees, the path is different. After a VETS finding, workers may have their claims referred to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department sues on their behalf in a federal District Court. There are no charges to the worker. If the employer is found to have willfully violated the USERRA, the worker may be awarded damages. Even workers who bring a suit on their own may receive an awarded for attorney and expert fees along with the damage award.
The law applies to veterans as well as National Guard and Reserve members.
Accurate USERRA posters must be displayed in the workplace, by law.
But how does the new hire reporting system actually work in tracking down delinquent parents and people who are getting unemployment insurance who shouldn’t be. All right, all right. I will review the topic again for the 1,001 time, just because I like you new readers out there, especially if you are from West Virginia, a beautiful state.
Speaking of West Virginia, let’s take a direct look at their labor law on new hire reporting. It’s called the West Virginia Revised Statute 48-18-125, which calls for the reporting of new hires and re-hires within 14 days of their first day of employment.
As it works in West Virginia and other states, one reason the system can keep going on and employers keep reporting new hires is that there is a fine system in place—$25 penalty for each new hire not reporting, or $500 per each new hire not reporting if it was on purpose.
With all of the new hire reports in, the state of West Virginia compiles all of them into a computer database. It then compares this with the database it has for parents who don’t make child support payments. When there is a match, the state act. Also, West Virginia also keeps track of those employers who don’t seem to be participating in the new hire reporting process.
If you turn out to be one of these employers, the state of West Virginia will then send you a letter reminding you about your obligations under the state system. The letter also warns as a legal notice that reminds you that if you continue not to participate, then you face those penalties I mentioned above.
Next, the state database is passed along to the Federal Office of Child Support, who compares West Virginia’s list with the lists of all of the other states, to find delinquent parents in whatever state they may be in.