The USERRA and the VEVRAA share a common denominator of protecting soldiers, past and present, from employment discrimination for their service. While both acts have the goal of employment protection for uniformed service members, some differences separate these two acts from being the same. All in all, the USERRA does not replace the VEVRAA.
USERRA vs. VEVRAA
Although these two acts are very similar, the USERRA and VEVRAA respond to different issues within employment discrimination against the uniformed service members. To determine which act helps you most, you need to know their similarities and differences. Break these acts down to their purpose, enforcing agency, and day-to-day protections.
Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA)
Purpose: This act obligates federal contractors from discriminating against veterans in hiring and employment. Enforcing Agency: The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Who: Federal contractors with contracts of $100,000+ and 50+ employees What: Obligated to create an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP), including workforce demographics and plan to increase diversity
Day-to-Day Protections The new VEVRAA Final Rule of 2014 jumpstarted new protections for veterans in recruiting, hiring, and employment.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
Purpose: This act prevents private employers from discriminating against uniformed service members who must leave for service and later return to civilian work. Enforcing Agency: The Department of Labor (DOL) Who: Private Employers What: Required to not discriminate against uniformed service members
Day-to-Day Protections USERRA prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals who have been a part of the uniformed services and exercised their USERRA rights. Discrimination cannot occur in hiring, employment, benefits, or promotions.
What are the Main Differences between the VEVRAA and USERRA?
Honestly, there is only one main difference between VEVRAA and USERRA. The VEVRAA targets federal contractors or subcontractors while the USERRA focuses on all other types of employers. Therefore, these acts are not in competition with one another. A few smaller differences may exist, but these acts basically do the same thing but in two different planes.
Does VEVRAA or USERRA Give Preference to a Veteran with a Disability for Employment?
While both acts protect against discrimination of soldiers, the VEVRAA takes special note of veterans with disabilities. Therefore, federal contractors who meet the VEVRAA requirements must take affirmative action to employ and promote qualified veterans with disabilities. These eligible veterans should receive priority in hiring and promoting.
In the civilian employer realm, USERRA may protect uniformed service members from discrimination, but it’s the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that obligates employers to not discriminate against uniformed service members with disabilities. It is not illegal for employers to offer preferential treatment to employees with disabilities.
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The History of Soldier Employment Protection
In 1974, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) was passed, aiming to protect returning Vietnam veterans from employment discrimination. This key federal law stood alone in its goal to protect and assist returning veterans until the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) came on the scene in 1994. Both acts have been amended to offer further protections to past, present, and future soldiers.
Does VEVRAA only Protect Vietnam Veterans?
Although VEVRAA started out in response to the returning Vietnam veterans, the VEVRAA has adapted and been amended to fit present day situations. VEVRAA provides protections to several groups of veterans, more commonly called protected veterans.
Active duty veterans
Campaign badge veterans
Recently separated veterans
Service medal veterans
Are there Other Laws Besides USERRA and VEVRAA that Protect Veterans?
Veterans and uniformed service members receive protections from the Veterans’ Preference Act and Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA) as well as USERRA, VEVRAA, and ADA. For example, the Veterans’ Preference Act allows employers to give qualified veterans, with or without disabilities, preference in competitive or noncompetitive appointments. Federal agencies also have “special hiring authorities,” that hire veterans with disabilities outside the normal hiring process.
Special Hiring Authorities
Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment program pairs agencies with eligible and qualified veterans.
Veterans Employment Opportunity Act allows veterans to apply for job usually open to current employees.
Schedule A Appointment Authority offers eligible applicants with a disability to open positions without going through the traditional hiring process.
USERRA and VEVRAA Expectations for Employers
Employers must be in tune with the law. To miss an obligation under the law could mean a costly lawsuit. Employers are not the only ones who should be aware of their legal requirements. To ensure that employees are receiving their employee rights, they should also know what the law expects from their employer.
1. A Hiring Benchmark
Each company should have a goal for hiring a certain number of veterans or uniformed service members for their workforce. This benchmark should be set according to the national percentage of veterans or data from the state or region.
2. Request Self-Identification
Employees who are veterans with a disability do not need to self-identify as a protected veteran under VEVRAA or USERRA. However, employers should offer an opportunity for candidates as well as current employees to reveal their protected veteran status. Employers need to be cautious not to ask a protected veteran what particular category of protection he or she is a part of.
3. OFCCP Reviews
The OFCCP reserves the right to conduct on-site and off-site reviews of the companies. This means employers must allow the OFCCP access to their documents. Furthermore, the OFCCP can also lengthen the review process if they hit something that they want to investigate further.
4. Track Veteran Recruiting and Hiring
To comply with VEVRAA, employers must be able to report on their efforts to hire veterans for positions within their business. This means collecting information on how many protected veterans applied for jobs, the number of job openings, and the total number of all applicants for the jobs. Employers should also track how many protected veterans were hired as well as overall applicants hired.
5. Accessible Job Listings
Employers must provide job openings to the Employment Service Delivery System to help that system pair eligible veterans with job openings. The job listing must be in a format that easily accessible and the company must identify as a federal contractor.
6. Mandated Language in Contracts
VEVRAA outlines the way employers are meant to communicate about the contractor’s obligation to hire and promote protected veterans. This is not limited to federal contracts but also includes subcontracts.
Federal contractors who fail to meet these criteria set out by VEVRAA may face legal action for not proactively providing hiring and employment opportunities to protected veterans. If you are a protected veteran and believe that you have faced negative employment action due to your status, reach out to a lawyer today to discover your options under the law.