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Discrimination Based on Veteran or Military Status in California

Many laws and regulations prohibit employers from acting against their employees based on their sex, marital status, age, military status, gender expression, race, and more. 

Unfortunately, certain companies and employers do not respect these laws by preying on their employees’ fears of being unable to do anything about the discrimination they experience at work. 

Freeburg & Granieri is a law firm with extensive experience in helping workers that have been discriminated against. If you’ve experienced discrimination (less pay, different contract details compared to non-discriminated workers doing the exact same job, etc.) based on your veteran or military status in California, you’ve come to the right place. 

Basis

The California Fair Employment Act forbids employers, labor unions, employment agencies, licensing agencies, and others from discriminating against job applicants, license applicants, and employees due to their past, present, or prospective military service. 

Military service in the U.S. is defined as being in service of the U.S. Armed Forces, the National Guard (of any state), the State Defense Force, or any other reserve components of the armed forces. 

Filing a complaint based on the statute of limitations can be done within 300 days from the date the individual was made aware of the action that was taken against them. 

Additionally, two federal laws prohibit military status-based discrimination in the workplace. 

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 protects employees from discrimination like the California Fair Employment Act. It must be mentioned that it does not matter in the eyes of the law if the employer is a private employer, a state government, the federal government, or a local government. 

You could also be protected against such discrimination under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (otherwise known as VEVRAA) if a federal contractor or subcontractor employs you. You’d also need to meet the criteria for being a ‘protected veteran’. 

Discrimination Prohibition

As far as what constitutes the employer’s discrimination actions, they can be related to hiring, recruiting, pay, job assignments, benefits, leave, licensing or union memberships, promotion, harassment, training, layoffs/firing, and various other employment-related discriminatory actions. 

The employer is prohibited from:

  • Terminating you 
  • Failing to hire you
  • Failing to promote you
  • Failing to reemploy you
  • Failing to provide you with the benefits that other employees receive

This all applies to military status or veteran-based discrimination. 

Exceptions to the Law

While there are plenty of situations where discrimination is prohibited, there are also exceptions to the rule. It is not considered employment discrimination to terminate or bar an individual from employment if the individual was dishonorably discharged, discharged because of bad conduct, or an entry-level separation. 

Can an Employer Refuse to Reemploy You?

While the California Fair Employment Act provides numerous protections against military status-based workplace discrimination, it does not constitute protection for reemployment opportunities. 

However, this does not mean employers can simply decline to reemploy you because you left for military service; the USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act) prohibits that. 

You can submit complaints to the U.S. Department of Labor if your employer chooses not to reemploy you based on your military service-related absence. 

Conclusion

The military personnel and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces often experience workplace discrimination and are subject to harassment by employers. For all their contributions, this is not how they should be treated. 

Fortunately, the many legal mechanisms that exist prohibit such actions and can be used in a court of law to punish employers who do not abide by the rules, as well as provide much-needed assurances to discriminated employees. 

If you’ve experienced discrimination based on your veteran or military status in California, contact us for a free consultation on the matter and let’s fight the good fight together for a brighter tomorrow for all veterans and military personnel. Tell us your story and we will use our extensive experience to bring you the justice and respect you deserve. 

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