USERRA at work

September 20, 2013
By: Charles Lamberton

For 10 of the past 12 years, Army reservist Scott Harrison was repeatedly called up to spend years at a time planning and supporting global military operations in places such as Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Over the course of his time abroad as a reservist, he achieved the rank of colonel in the Army. But back at home in Florida, the large telecommunication company Harrison worked for failed to provide him with promotions and raises for a variety of reasons, including what the company said was the lack of sufficient annual evaluations by his supervisor to support promotions during his military service. After trying to collaborate with the company to recapture the raises and promotions, Harrison filed a claim with the department under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. USERRA mandates that returning service members must be promptly re-employed in the same position that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. As part of the complaint review process, an investigator from the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service collects and reviews evidence and conducts witness interviews in order to obtain a resolution. Regardless of the outcome of the case, if a claimant is dissatisfied, he or she may request that the case be referred to the Department of Justice. After several months of review, Harrison’s company settled the claim. He has been promoted and paid $96,000 in lost wages.