Congressman Davis Proposes New Legislation to Strengthen USERRA
Rep. Artur Davis (D-Al.) has introduced H.R. 1474 to strengthen protections for veterans, reservists and other members of the uniformed services who return to the workforce after military service or active duty. The bill, which amends the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”), codified at 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301 - 4333, would improve the enforcement mechanism of USERRA by:
- Clarifying that USERRA prohibits wage discrimination;
- Prohibiting mandatory pre-dispute arbitration in claims that arise under USERRA;
- Granting employees the right to a jury trial in cases against private, local and state government employers;
- Clarifying that a merger, acquisition, or other form of succession is not necessary to impose successor liability under USERRA; and
- Clarifying that Section 4302 of the Act applies to both substantive and procedural rights.
The bill would also require a mandatory minimum of $10,000 to be awarded to employees in all cases in which a violation is found, unless the employer can prove that it took its actions in good faith. Additionally, the bill would provide for awards of punitive damages where an employee presents evidence that the employer acted willfully or recklessly when it violated USERRA.
The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. Hopefully, Congress will promptly enact H.R. 1474 and its companion bill in the Senate (S.263) to close the loopholes in the current law and ensure that servicemembers’ and veterans’ rights are effectively enforced under USERRA. For more information on USERRA rights and legislation, visit The Employment Law Group® law firm’s USERRA Practice at http://www.employmentlawgroup.net/PracticeAreas/USERRAVeterans.asp.