Can I Expect USERRA Reasonable Accommodation?
Reasonable accommodation, a familiar benefit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), may be on better terms with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). USERRA does offer reasonable accommodation to veterans with disabilities incurred through service. In fact, USERRA has wider coverage for disability than ADA because USERRA doesn’t require an individual with a disability to meet ADA’s definition of disability.
What Is USERRA Reasonable Accommodation?
Frankly, USERRA reasonable accommodation offers to returning soldiers much of the same benefits as the reasonable accommodation according to ADA. But, USERRA leaps a step farther than ADA on the behalf of uniformed service members. In some cases, a returning uniformed service member has incurred or aggravated a preexisting disability during his or her service that does not fit ADA’s definition of disability. USERRA requires the employer to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the service-related disabled uniformed service member, whether an accommodation or training.
When a veteran returns to his or her civilian job, USERRA demands the employer train or accommodate the veteran so that he or she can return to work. If, for example, a civilian employee would have been promoted within a certain time period, the returning veteran should also receive that promotion. The employer offers retraining and training to qualify the veteran for this position.
Offers Reasonable Accommodation
Service-connected disabilities sometimes alters a returning uniformed service member’s ability to work as he or she once did. Although the service-connected disability may not meet ADA’s definition of disability, USERRA still covers it and compels employers to make reasonable efforts on the behalf of the returning employees.
Sometimes, a veteran with a disability no longer has the ability to perform his or her job. In these cases, USERRA obligates the employer to train the returning soldier with the goal of qualifying him or her for a job position that is equal to the last job position in every way. Equal to the last work position means that it is equivalent in status, pay, seniority, and responsibility. Training should be at no cost to the veteran.
What Accommodations Can Be Expected Under USERRA?
USERRA and ADA suggest a list of reasonable accommodations; however, the list displays only examples. Every disability is different and may require specific accommodation. Veterans with service-connected disabilities may or may not need the accommodations listed below for job application or work performance.
- a job coach to smooth transition into work
- job training, interviews, exams, and recruitment fairs in accessible spaces
- accessible formats of written materials: Braille, large print, digital
- leave for treatment, training, or recuperation related to disability
- modified devices or equipment
- workplace modifications (adjusting a desk height, etc.)
- permission to work from home
- part-time or modified work schedules
- reassignment to another equivalent job position that is not hampered by the disability
USERRA Reasonable Accommodation Quick Facts
USERRA applies to all employers, regardless of company size or other factors. No exceptions.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) enforce USERRA. These departments are the big guns, protecting the rights of soldiers at home while soldiers protect the United States.
It’s never too late to request an accommodation. Reasonable accommodation can be yours even if your employer was never made aware of your disability or you have already started the job.
Asking for another accommodation is appropriate, too, especially if your job has altered or a better accommodation has become available.
The best time to request accommodation is before your work performance suffers.
If you need reasonable accommodation but your service-connected disability isn’t covered by ADA, contact a lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.