On November 21, 2011, the Veterans Opportunity to Work (“VOW”) to Hire Heroes Act was signed. The new law has two significant provisions:
It provides for tax credits to employers that hire veterans in amounts that vary depending on the veteran’s length of unemployment. It provides for up to $2,400 for veterans unemployed at least four weeks, up to $5,600 for veterans unemployed longer than six months, and up to $9,600 for disabled veterans unemployed longer than six months.
It amends the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”) to recognize claims of a hostile work environment based on an individual’s military status. Prior to the VOW to Hire Heroes Act becoming effective, courts generally did not recognize a cause of action for a hostile work environment under USERRA. The amendment to USERRA prohibits discrimination based on military status with respect to the “terms, conditions, or privileges of employment”- the same standard governing a hostile work environment under Title VII and other employment discrimination laws.
If you have any questions regarding VOW to Hire Heroes Act or the amendment to USERRA, be sure to contact your employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.