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Supporting Veterans in the Workplace

Supporting Veterans in the WorkplaceAs veterans navigate the transition from military service to civilian employment, they may face unique challenges that require legal advocacy.

The employment landscape for veterans has evolved significantly over the years. Federal and State laws, such as the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the California Military and Veterans Code, are in place to protect veterans from discrimination and ensure they receive fair treatment in the workplace.

Reemployment Rights

The California Military and Veterans Code provides specific protections for members of the military, including veterans. This code outlines the rights of employees who serve in the military and the responsibilities of their employers. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that guarantees veterans the right to return to their civilian employment after completing military service. Employers are required to comply with these reemployment rights so that veterans can reintegrate into their previous roles without facing adverse actions. Veterans who leave their civilian jobs for military service have the right to return to their previous positions or similar positions with the same seniority, status, and pay upon their return.

Requirements for Reemployment

If you leave your civilian job for military service, you have the right to reemployment as long as you follow these guidelines:

  • Inform your employer about your military service in advance, either in writing or verbally.
  • Return to work or apply for reemployment promptly after completing your military service.
  • You must have a total of five years or less of cumulative military service while working for that specific
  • You must not have received a disqualifying discharge or been separated under conditions other than honorable.[1]

Protection from Discrimination

California law prohibits discrimination against employees based on their military or veteran status. Employers are not allowed to discriminate in employment decisions, such as hiring, promotion, or termination, based on an individual’s military service. Veterans with service-related disabilities may require reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Employers must generally adjust the work environment or job duties to accommodate the needs of disabled veterans, with some exceptions.

USERRA dictates that every individual, whether currently or formerly a member of the uniformed service, someone who has applied for membership, or an individual obligated to serve in the uniformed service, is entitled to protection against discrimination and retaliation from their employer. This protection encompasses various aspects, including initial employment, reemployment, sustained employment, promotion, and other employment benefits. Employers are prohibited from making adverse decisions based on an individual’s uniformed service status in any of these areas.

Employers are also forbidden from retaliating against anyone actively involved in upholding USERRA rights. This protection extends to those providing assistance, such as testifying or making statements in connection with a USERRA proceeding, even if the individual offering support lacks a direct military service connection.

Time Off for Military Service

Veterans may require time off from work in order to complete military duties. In those instances, veterans are entitled to take time off without fear of retaliation. Employers cannot penalize veterans for fulfilling their military obligations, and they must allow veterans to return to work promptly upon completion of their service. If veterans face retaliation or wrongful termination based on their military status, they may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Veterans’ Preference in Public Employment

 In public employment in California, veterans may be entitled to preferential treatment in hiring, promotion, and retention. Government agencies often provide hiring preferences to veterans as a way of acknowledging their service.

Despite legal safeguards, veterans may still encounter discrimination based on their military service. Through our expertise in employment law and a deep commitment to justice, we strive to ensure that veterans are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. If you are a veteran facing workplace discrimination or if you simply want to learn more about your rights, contact Matern Law Group today.


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