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Federal and state laws provide strong employment rights to current and former members of the Armed Forces, including the federal Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and veteran’s preference laws that benefit veterans who apply for jobs and promotions in federal and state government.

Outten & Golden LLP protects and enforces the employment rights of reservists, servicemembers and veterans in individual and class action cases, including in private negotiations, federal courts, state courts, appellate courts, and arbitration.

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If you are a veteran, a reservist, or a servicemember, Outten & Golden can help enforce your employment rights, reemployment rights, and benefits, such as:

  • The right to be free of discrimination based on your military service or status in hiring, promotions, termination, pay, and benefits.
  • The right to be reemployed to your civilian job after serving in the Armed Forces, and the rights and benefits associated with that civilian job.
  • The right to receive pension credits or retirement contributions from your civilian employer after you return from a period of military service.
  • If you have a service-related disability or injury, the right to have your civilian employer place you in any position that you can do with or without a reasonable accommodation.
  • The right to be free of retaliation for exercising rights and taking action to enforce them.
  • The continuation of certain employee benefits during your military service.
  • When you apply for a job, the right to not be asked about your disability by the employer before you are given a conditional offer of employment.

 

Notable Cases

Lawyers at Outten & Golden have obtained tens of millions of dollars of monetary relief and important policy changes for tens of thousands of veterans and servicemembers.

  • Southwest Airlines 
    • Negotiated and filed for preliminary approval of a settlement worth $19 million in restored benefits for at least 1,500 Southwest Airlines pilots denied retirement contributions and sick leave for periods of military service.
  • Washington State Patrol*
    • Obtained a $15 million settlement for nearly 900 Washington State Patrol officers denied veteran’s preference.
  • American Airlines
    • Obtained a $6.4 million settlement for over 1,200 American Airlines pilots denied pension contributions for periods of military service.
  • United Airlines*
    • Obtained a $6.15 million settlement for over 1,200 United Airlines pilots denied pension contributions for periods of military service.
  • U.S. Postal Service*
    • Obtained a more than $10 million settlement for disabled veterans who applied to work for the Postal Service, and were required to provide medical information before receiving conditional offers of employment.
  • Podliska v. House Benghazi Committee
    • Settled high profile USERRA case in which a congressional investigator alleged that he was discriminated and retaliated against due to his military service, and alleged that a Congressman defamed him and violated his due process rights.
(Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)
*Includes cases worked on by Counsel Peter Romer-Friedman at prior law firm.

Peter Romer-Friedman

Peter Romer-Friedman, Counsel in the Outten & Golden Washington, DC office, speaks about the firm and his practice.

Peter Romer-Friedman, Counsel in the Outten & Golden Washington, DC office.

 

Meet the legal team working on the case

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Outten & Golden employment lawyer Ossai Miazad

Frequently Asked Questions

What is USERRA, the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act?

The Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act is the federal law that protects servicemembers and veterans against discrimination based on their military service or status, requires employers to reemploy servicemembers who have taken military leave, and provides other important rights and benefits to those who have served in the Armed Forces.  Congress passed USERRA in 1994 to strengthen the employment and reemployment rights that veterans and servicemembers have had since the 1940s. 

What is the purpose of USERRA?

One of the primary purposes of USERRA is to encourage non-career service in the Armed Forces through participation in the Guard and Reserves and eliminate or reduce the disadvantages that servicemembers face in their civilian careers due to such military service.  Another purpose is to prohibit discrimination based on service in the military.

Who is protected by USERRA?

You are protected by USERRA if you have served, are currently serving, or plan to serve in the Armed Forces, including in the National Guard, Reserves or an active component, as well as other uniformed services like the Public Health Service. Your service is protected by USERRA whether or not it is voluntary or involuntary, both in peacetime or in war, and it includes military training.

Which employers does USERRA apply to?

USERRA applies to virtually all employers of all sizes, including private sector employers, state and local governments, the federal government, and even members and committees of Congress. 

What rights do servicemembers and veterans have under USERRA?
  • USERRA prohibits discrimination against servicemembers and veterans based on their military service or status, including discrimination in hiring, promotions, termination, pay, and benefits.   
  • USERRA gives servicemembers a right to be reemployed by their civilian employers when they take leave from their employers to serve in the military and return from serving in the military—in the same position or, in some cases, in a better position than when they began their military service—so long as they give notice of their military duty to their civilian employer, request reemployment on a timely basis after serving, are not dishonorably discharged, and have not taken more than five years of military leave from that particular employer (though many types of service are exempted from the five year limit).
  • USERRA requires employers to provide pension credits or retirement contributions to employees who take leave to serve in the Armed Forces and return to their employers after their military service.  These contributions are required so that servicemembers’ retirement security is not undermined by their service in the Armed Forces.
  • USERRA prohibits retaliating against any person for taking action to exercise or enforce a right under USERRA or for complaining about a violation of USERRA.
  • USERRA requires employers to continue to pay for their employees’ health insurance benefits for a period of military service that lasts fewer than 31 days.  If the period of military service is 31 days or greater, the employer does not have to pay for the health insurance benefits but the employee can remain on the same health insurance plan for at least 24 months if he or she pays up to 102% of the premium of the health insurance plan.
  • Other employee benefits. Certain employee benefits that are not tied to an employee’s seniority must be continued during an employee’s military service if the employer provides the same benefits to similarly situated employees who take leave from the employer.  For example, if employees accrue vacation leave or sick leave when they take leave from the employer, the employer must provide the same accrued vacation leave or sick leave to an employee who is engaged in military service.

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