[authors: Melissa Burdorf and Beth Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editors]
The US Army has launched a national education campaign entitled Hire a Veteran in an attempt to tackle the key challenges facing veterans returning to the civilian workplace. The campaign hones in on:
Conveying to employers the benefits in increasing outreach efforts and hiring veterans in the workplace by demonstrating that veterans can bring diversity, as well as leadership, technical and team-building skills;
An employer's concerns over the impact of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other visible injuries on job performance;
Educating employers on the transferability of military skills into the civilian workplace; and
Highlighting the low cost associated with making reasonable accommodations to returning veterans suffering from certain service-related conditions.
To further its mission, the Army created a video illustrating the many misconceptions employers have about employing returning veterans with service-related disabilities. The video draws attention to the value in the transferability of military skills (such as leadership, resilience, situational awareness, analysis and attention to detail) into the workplace.
The campaign also informs employers about the many cost-effective accommodations that can be made to allow returning veterans to effectively contribute to the workplace. At the outset, it is made clear that not all returning veterans need an accommodation. However, where an employee may need an accommodation, the campaign highlights the many accommodations that are merely strategic (no cost), and others that may cost little to no money. For example:
Dividing up larger assignments into smaller more manageable assignments;
Permitting employees to listen to music with a headset;
Allowing workplace flexibility - such as flex time or telecommuting;
Providing time off for an employee to attend counseling or medical appointments; and
Utilizing ergonomic devices such as special mouse pads or keyboards;
The Army has included an online employer toolkit with more information for employers.
Employers should also be aware that certain federal and state laws may come into play when considering hiring or reemploying returning veterans. For example, the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides certain leave, benefits and reinstatement rights to employees who serve in the uniformed services. Under USERRA, in addition to other requirements, employers have specific obligations to those individuals returning from uniformed service leave with service-related disabilities or a disability that was aggravated by the uniformed service. In these situations, employers must make reasonable efforts to accommodate the employee's disability and help the employee become qualified to perform the duties of his or her reemployment position.
Likewise, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for members of the uniformed service with disabilities. Under the ADA, an employer must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities - meaning that they can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
Employers should also know that the Vietnam Era Veteran's Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972 (VEVRAA) addresses employment of veterans and ensures that veterans have equal employment opportunity in the workforce. Specifically, it requires that certain federal contractors take affirmative action to employ and advance veterans in the workplace by implementing an affirmative action plan to increase recruitment and outreach to veterans. It also requires that employers periodically review their job qualification standards to make sure that they do not unnecessarily create barriers to employment that would discourage veterans from applying. Further, it guarantees that that the contractor will provide reasonable accommodations to veterans as well as procedures to prevent discrimination and harassment against veterans.
Employee Leaves > USERRA
Employee Management > Disabilities (ADA) > ADA Interplay
US Army - Warrior Transition Command