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Employment protections available to returning veterans

Will employers in Florida be required to offer employment protections to returning veterans from Afghanistan?

The question is timely, as the Obama administration might realize its goal of withdrawing up to 23,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the summer. As those veterans return to the workplace, many are questioning what protections may be offered to them. Disabled veterans, in particular, may wonder if any options are available if their rights are violated in the workplace.

Under a federal law called the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, employers might be obligated to accommodate military veterans who want to return to their previous jobs. If a veteran is also disabled, he or she might also qualify for protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published several guides to help employers provide reasonable accommodations to disabled veterans, as required by the ADA. Examples may include modifications to the work schedule, making facilities accessible to the disabled, and modifying tests and training materials.

Approximately 45% of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — almost half — have sought compensation for injuries they say are service-related. Although the number of disabled veterans from Afghanistan has yet to be tallied, the list of already common injuries includes missing limbs, burns, spinal cord injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss and traumatic brain injuries.

If you are a disabled veteran encountering resistance from your employer about requested modifications to your work environment or the way your job is customarily done, you may be able to bring a claim for disability discrimination.

An attorney will be able to ensure all of your rights are protected and help you transition fully back into the workforce.

Source: Business Insurance, “USERRA compliance can be challenging for employers,” Judy Greenwald, June 17, 2012