Can Veterans Be Discriminated in the Workplace?

As veterans transition from military to civilian life, they may encounter various challenges related to employment. Despite federal and state laws prohibiting workplace discrimination, some veterans may still face unfair treatment based on their military service. This underscores the importance of understanding and respecting veterans’ rights in the workplace. While this can be an unfortunate situation, there are legal options that may be of help.

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against veterans under several federal laws, including the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The USERRA protects veterans’ reemployment rights after returning from military service, ensuring they are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers due to their military obligations. Title VII prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin and includes protection for veterans.

In addition to USERRA and Title VII, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) requires federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance veterans. Furthermore, many states have laws prohibiting discrimination based on military status or affiliation.

Examples of Veteran Discrimination

Discrimination against veterans can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Refusal to hire: Some employers may be reluctant to hire veterans due to stereotypes or misconceptions about their suitability for civilian roles.
  • Unequal treatment: Veterans may face different treatment compared to their non-veteran colleagues, like being passed over for promotions or receiving fewer opportunities for career advancement.
  • Harassment: In some cases, veterans may experience harassment or hostility in the workplace based on their military status. That could create a hostile work environment.
  • Retaliation: Employees who assert their rights under USERRA or other anti-discrimination laws may face retaliation from employers, such as demotion or termination.

What Should Veterans Do If They Experience Workplace Discrimination?

If a veteran believes they have been subjected to discrimination in the workplace, they can take the following steps:

  • Document incidents: Keep detailed records of any instances of discrimination, including dates, times, and witnesses present. Save emails, texts, and other communications that can serve as evidence to support your claim.
  • Report the discrimination: Notify the appropriate individuals within the company, such as HR personnel or supervisors, about the discrimination.
  • File a complaint: If internal remedies are ineffective, veterans can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or their state’s fair employment practices agency.
  • Seek legal advice: Consult an experienced employment law attorney who can assess the situation and guide the best action. In cases where discrimination persists, or the employer fails to address the issue, veterans may pursue legal action through a lawsuit to seek remedies and damages for the harm suffered.

How Can Employers Create a More Inclusive Workplace Environment for Veterans?

Employers can take proactive steps to create a more inclusive workplace environment for veterans. Employee education about veteran-related issues and the importance of diversity and inclusion can help foster understanding and empathy among staff members. Employers can promote a culture of respect and appreciation by raising awareness about the challenges veterans may face in the workplace and highlighting their valuable skills and experiences.

Additionally, employers might consider implementing accommodations for veterans with disabilities or service-related conditions to ensure they can perform their job duties effectively. That could include providing flexible work arrangements, modifying workspaces, or offering assistive technologies. Establishing veteran hiring programs and actively recruiting veterans can also demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion.  

Our South Jersey Workplace Discrimination Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Provide Legal Representation to Our Nation’s Veterans

For personalized legal advice and assistance with workplace discrimination issues, contact our knowledgeable South Jersey workplace discrimination lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC for a free consultation. Call 856-235-7075 or submit our online form today. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.