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David C. Henderson and Matthew P. Ritchie publish “Employment Rights and Returning Armed Forces Members”

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December 2009 | Article
David C. Henderson and Matthew P. Ritchie, members of the firm's Labor, Employment and Benefits practice, published “Employment Rights and Returning Armed Forces Members” in the December 2009 issue of Employment Law Strategist. The article discusses the recent increase in enforcement efforts by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) against employers believed to have discriminated against armed forces members returning from active duty and looking to reenter the civilian workforce.

These DOJ enforcement actions include lawsuits under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). This statute generally applies to every employer regardless of size. It prohibits discrimination against service members and entitles them to return to civilian employment at the same level of pay, benefits, and status they would have attained if continuously employed - subject to only a few exceptions.

David and Matthew note that the consequences of a USERRA lawsuit can vary. Employers can be subject to a variety of remedial measures, including being compelled to pay lost wages and benefits; being compelled to reinstate, promote, reassign, and/or provide a reasonable accommodation to an injury; being forced to pay multiple damages if the violation was willful; and being compelled to pay the litigation costs and attorneys' fees of the employee.

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