Employment Law


There is no doubt that returning veterans have a higher unemployment rate than civilians.  In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the civilian unemployment rate at 8.7 percent, while the rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was 12.1 percent.  The difference in unemployment rates for civilians and returning veterans was even more glaring for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24.  Their unemployment rate was 30.2 percent compared to 16.1 percent for civilians in the same age group.  Granted, many of these young veterans may have gone back to school, but the same can be said for similarly aged civilians.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law designed to ensure that people who serve their country through military service are not disadvantaged in the civilian workforce. Historically, there have been employment issues when individuals were drafted or when Reservists and National Guard troops were called to active duty. They would return home and find they had been replaced, and no comparable jobs were available. USERRA was passed to hold employers accountable and prevent service members from being penalized for serving in the armed forces.

Military Caregiver Leave is an extension to the Family and Medical Leave Act, commonly known as FMLA. It authorizes family members of qualified veterans and active duty military personnel to take leave from their jobs to care for the military member or veteran who is injured or ill. To simplify this discussion, I will use the term “servicemember” to mean both active duty military, qualified reservists and qualified veterans.  The injury or illness must be serious enough for the servicemember to need a family member’s care for weeks or even months.

The United States military is an all voluntary military.  To encourage people to volunteer for military service, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) provides broad generous protection of service member’s civilian career. USERRA provides for job reinstatement to a civilian job after military service and prohibits job discrimination and retaliation in any employment decision based on military service.

An emergency preliminary injunction has prevented this change to go into affect. For more information read "The Uncertain Future of Overtime Pay for White Collar Workers." To learn more about what may happen continuing reading. The Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 531 et. seq.), requires that most jobs be paid an hourly rate of pay and that these jobs be paid at time-and-a-half the regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 or more in the employers’ workweek. These jobs are called “hourly” or “non-exempt” jobs.

Background to The Fair Labor Standards Act of 2016

Since the implementation of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, Americans have believed that our democratic way of life requires a fair wage for a hard day’s work.  That ideal was realized in the 1938 Act which provided for a minimum wage plus time-and-a-half for workers who worked more than 40 hours a week.  These overtime pay rules apply to most hourly workers and to some salaried employees.  In the early days, most salaried workers were covered by the law, but as the years went by with few updates to the overtime salary cap, more and more white-collar workers were left out in the cold.  They were classified as “exempt” from receiving overtime pay, and they often work many hours of overtime with no extra compensation.

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