Congressman Garamendi Introduces the Help Veterans Return to Work Act
February 1, 2012
Jobs Bill Endorsed by The American Legion
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), the son of a World War II Major and a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, today introduced the Help Veterans Return to Work Act of 2012, H.R. 3860. Endorsed by The American Legion, this jobs bill closes a loophole that allows large corporations to refrain from rehiring National Guard and Reserve members who were sent into combat in service of our country. The bill is necessary because as of December 2011, the unemployment rate among veterans 18-24 years of age was 31 percent – double that of the nonveteran unemployment rate.
"In a combat zone, it doesn't matter what American uniform you wear; every branch of service includes heroes willing to risk everything for our freedom," Congressman Garamendi said. "Unfortunately, because of a loophole in existing law, when National Guard and Reserve members return from the front lines, too often they come home to see their job taken away from them."
"If the law is failing American servicemembers, it's time to change the law," Garamendi added. "The Help Veterans Return to Work Act rights a terrible wrong. I will talk to every one of my colleagues who will listen and urge them to make sure we do right by our veterans and pass this important legislation."
Current law, as set by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), is too lenient in allowing employers, regardless of size, to dismiss deployed servicemembers. It is estimated that nearly half of unemployed veterans are National Guard and Reserve members. This bill would help ensure that those who leave behind jobs to defend our nation will be guaranteed those jobs when they return home.
The USERRA protects servicemembers' jobs by:
• Requiring the employer to reinstate the employee in the position that is the same or comparable and with the same prior benefits;
• Making reasonable efforts to qualify returning servicemembers for their previous jobs if they no longer qualify;
• Accommodating a person who has a service-related disability; and
• Providing training.
Currently, an employer is excused from reemploying a returning veteran if the employer's circumstances have changed in a way that it is now impossible or unreasonable to do so, or imposes an "undue hardship." The Help Veterans Return to Work Act of 2012 would amend USERRA so that undue hardship protections would apply only to small businesses, eliminating the protections for big businesses.
A small business is defined in accordance with the Small Business Administration's definition. The established size standards for all for-profit economic activities are described under the North American Industry Classification System which classifies businesses according to economic sector, industry, and country of the business; according to its economic activity.
The Help Veterans Return to Work Act of 2012 has been endorsed by the nation's largest veterans' service organization, The American Legion. A copy of their letter of endorsement is available here.