Ahead of Veterans Day, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and its Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), issued a resource document describing federal protections from unlawful employment discrimination against servicemembers and veterans.
The document details federal laws that provide workplace protections specific to servicemembers and veterans, such as the Uniformed Services and Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The document also explains how additional federal laws prohibit discrimination against employees for other reasons that servicemembers and veterans may face, including discrimination on the basis of a disability or other protected characteristics.
This is the first time that these agencies have jointly authored a resource document to help veterans and servicemembers determine which laws and federal agencies are responsible for enforcing their workplace rights and where to seek assistance if they believe those rights have been violated.
“We owe our servicemembers, veterans and their families a deep debt of gratitude for their service to our country,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Through rigorous enforcement of federal civil rights laws, the Justice Department is working hard to ensure that the rights of the brave servicemembers and veterans are safeguarded from discrimination and unfair treatment.”
“Our military members sacrifice immensely to keep our country safe, and whether they are actively serving, reservists, or veterans, we must ensure they know their workplace rights and how to enforce them if they experience discrimination.” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “This document clearly explains that they are protected from discrimination because of their military service, veteran status, disability or other reasons, such as their race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation or gender identity), age or genetic information.”
“OFCCP is pleased to release this important resource on employment discrimination protections for service members and veterans with VETS – at the Department of Labor – and our sister federal civil rights agencies,” said Director Jenny R. Yang of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. “As the federal government makes historic investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and technology, OFCCP is playing a central role in ensuring that the nation is utilizing the full talents of all workers, including our nation’s protected veterans.”
On Wednesday, the Civil Rights Division and the Justice Department’s Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to host an event to highlight the work of VA-associated medical legal partnerships and discuss legal issues impacting veterans. The event also identified ways that federal attorneys and legal staff can be part of the solution by volunteering for pro bono assistance. The program featured remarks by Assistant Attorney General Clarke and ATJ Director Rachel Rossi, as well as Catherine Mitrano, Acting General Counsel for the VA and a number of veterans’ advocates.
The Civil Rights Division also houses the Justice Department’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative (SVI), which supports this legal work by conducting targeted outreach, training, policy development and coordination with other federal partners. In the last two years, SVI conducted 45 training and outreach programs, issued guidance to over 130 of businesses about servicemember financial rights and responded to hundreds of citizen requests for information. In addition, the division has assisted more than 3,450 servicemembers, veterans, and their families, securing more than $2 million in relief for them under federal civil rights law.
To learn more about the division’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative, please visit www.servicemembers.gov. To learn more about the Office for Access to Justice, please visit www.justice.gov/atj. More information about the laws the EEOC enforces and how to file a charge of discrimination is available at www.eeoc.gov. More information about the OFCCP is available at www.dol.gov/agencies/ofccp, and more information about VETS is available at www.dol.gov/agencies/vets.