Core Provisions: As passed by the House on June 8, 2009, the bill would amend the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act to extend its prohibition against discrimination and acts of reprisal against armed service members to include persons who receive treatment for illnesses, injuries, and disabilities incurred in or aggravated by service in the uniformed services. The amended statute would therefore prohibit employers from discriminating or making any adverse employment decision against a veteran on the basis of that employee or applicant’s receipt of treatment for an illness, injury, or disability determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to have been incurred in or aggravated by uniformed service.
The bill as passed by the House would further establish certain rights of veterans absent from employment for a military service-connected disability. These employees would be: 1) entitled to be retained by the employer and 2) entitled to the seniority and other rights and benefits determined by seniority the veteran had on the date of the treatment for the disability, plus the additional seniority and rights and benefits the veteran would have attained had he or she remained continuously employed. In addition, these employees would be deemed to be on furlough or a leave of absence while receiving treatment for a military service-connected disability, and therefore would be entitled to other non-seniority rights and benefits generally provided by the employer to employees having similar seniority, status, and pay who are on furlough or a leave of absence.
Employees would not be entitled to such non-seniority rights and benefits if the employee provides written notice to the employer of having no intent to return to employment following medical treatment. Further, employers would not be required to retain a covered veteran if: 1) circumstances have so changed to make retention impossible or unreasonable, 2) retention would pose an undue hardship on the employer, or 3) the employment in question is for a brief, nonrecurrent period and there is no reasonable expectation that it will continue indefinitely or for a significant period.
The House version of the bill also would permit any veteran absent from work due to treatment for a military service-connected disability to use any accrued vacation, annual, medical, or similar leave with pay to cover such time away from work, although an employer cannot require a veteran to do so.
Status: Rep. Doggett (D-TX) introduced the Wounded Veteran Job Security Act on January 13, 2009 and it was referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The bill was reported with amendments to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and placed on the Union Calendar on May 19, 2009. The bill was passed by the House in a voice vote on June 8, 2009. The bill will now move to the Senate.