U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz last week introduced legislation to strengthen an existing law that prohibits workplace discrimination against veterans returning from service.
Schwartz (D-13th dist.), in her fourth two-year term, unveiled the Servicemembers’ Access to Justice Act on June 21. Sen. Bob Casey introduced the act in the Senate on May 23.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 requires that employers promptly reinstate returning veterans to their civilian jobs.
“The unemployment rate among veterans is ten percent in Montgomery County, and in Philadelphia County is a staggering 16.6 percent. We absolutely cannot allow those who sacrificed so much for our country to be left with no job and no financial security when they return home,” Schwartz said.
“I have fought for expanded job opportunities for veterans since coming to Congress in 2005 and will continue to ensure our brave men and women in uniform can return home with the medical, educational and job opportunities they need and deserve.”
The act would:
• Prohibit employers from requiring service members to give up their ability to enforce their rights under USERRA in court in order to get or keep a job.
• Require a Government Accountability Office study of current employer education programs related to USERRA and the solicitation of recommendations for ways in which government agencies can cooperate to enhance employer education.
• Enhance the remedies available to service members who prove that their rights under USERRA were violated by adding damages.
• Require federal agencies to provide notice to contractors of potential USERRA obligations.
“With the increased deployment of the National Guard and Reserve forces in the post-9/11 era, enforcing civilian employment protections provided for Guardsmen and Reservists has proven to be problematic,” said Fang A. Wong, national commander of the American Legion. “This legislation would make strides toward better protecting our service members by expanding their access to recourse.” ••EndFragment