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How to prevent workplace discrimination against veterans

With so many of our armed forces veterans returning home from active duty we found this recent article discussing the seven signs of employment discrimination against veterans rather timely. In the spirit of helping Denver-area employers remain compliant here are seven of the most commonly seen signs of workplace discrimination against veterans as well as the laws that protect them.

  • A veteran comes home only to be told the job he held previously is not available. Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, a veteran has an "absolute right" to return to the job he or she held prior to active duty deployment. This act provides further protections to returning veteran employees as well.
  • An employer chooses not to hire veterans for whatever reason. Some employers may fear long-term or continued absences from a member of the military, such as the National Guard and do not want to take a chance on hiring someone who may be called into active duty. This is employment discrimination and is also against the law under USERRA.
  • Taking away a veteran's accrued vacation or sick leave time. The USERRA also protects veterans from being denied any "benefit of employment" due to his or her military status. If an employee would have accrued vacation time while in active service, that employee is owed that vacation time as if they had been on the job.
  • Workplace harassment by supervisors, managers or other co-workers due to military service is illegal. The Veterans Opportunity to Work or VOW to Hire Heroes Act signed by President Obama last year protects veterans from workplace harassment based on military status.
  • Refusing to hire a veteran because he or she is disabled is unlawful under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which makes discrimination based on an employee or potential employee's disability illegal. This of course is as long as the veteran is capable of performing the duties of the job with reasonable accommodations.
  • Refusing a veteran employee's request to take time off for a medical condition is also considered employment discrimination. The Family and Medical Leave Act protects veteran employees who need to take periodic or continuous time off for a medical condition that was sustained in active duty.
  • Lastly, the same FMLA laws protect an employee who needs to take time off to care for a family member, often called caregiver leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides a variety of job protections to family members of veterans who may require care after returning home from deployment.

Source: AOL Jobs, "7 Signs of Discrimination Against Veterans At Work," Donna Ballman, Sept. 27, 2012

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