Veteran discrimination occurs when any kind of different treatment is given toward someone who has served in the military. Discrimination can take many forms, including: preferential hiring shown to non-veterans, blocking veterans from promotion or advancement, or harassment of veterans in the workplace with slurs or inappropriate comments.

Federal law prohibits discrimination toward veterans, and federal regulations and codes require affirmative action practices to ensure that veterans are hired, retained, and advanced at a comparable rate as non-veterans.

Are Veterans Covered by the ADA?

Veterans are covered by Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, enforces ADA requirements. Any American with a disability is covered by the ADA, so these protections naturally extend to veterans as well.

Many veterans have service-related injuries that require reasonable accommodations in the workplace. An employer can’t decline to hire a former serviceman because of disabilities or assumed disabilities, and medical information related to these disabilities do not always have to be disclosed to employers per ADA guidelines.

There are three requirements to meet the ADA’s definition of disability:

  • Physical or mental condition or symptoms that substantially limit, interfere with or prohibit a “major life activity.”
  • Documentation and record of the condition.
  • Recognition of that condition.

If these criteria are fulfilled, a veteran with disability must legally have reasonable accommodations provided for him or her in the workplace.

In 2008, the ADA was amended with changes that facilitate easier identification and proof of these conditions and impairments. Further, the assessment of whether the veteran has a service-related disability has to be made without taking any aids or assistive devices, including medications, into account.

What Other Protections Exist for Veterans?

There are a number of other legal protections to help prevent veteran discrimination.

  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, section 501, specifically outlines these protections against veteran discrimination federal employment jobs.
  • The Vietnam Era Veterans Adjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), which is enforced by the Veterans Employment and Training Service, is specifically aimed at helping certain Vietnam veterans secure and retain employment. Qualification is extended to veterans with certain kinds of disabilities, separated veterans, and veterans who served on active duty.  This act outlines affirmative action measures that act as enforcement mechanisms.
  • 38 USC §4301 contains explanation of and legislation for The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This is different from the ADA in that it is aimed at safeguarding the re-employment rights of people who have left to serve in the military as well as adding additional prohibitions against veteran discrimination. USERR requires that employers make accommodations and efforts to help a returning veteran qualify for a job or return to a job that was left so that he or she could serve in the military.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are a veteran who has been discriminated against in any of the ways discussed above, you have legal remedies available to you. An employment discrimination lawyer can help you narrow in on the grounds for a discrimination lawsuit and represent you during settlement talks and court actions.