Protected Veteran Status: Understanding Rights and Benefits

Under federal laws, certain classes of Veterans are protected from employment discrimination when applying for jobs and working for most federal contractors and subcontractors.

Here is what you should know to understand your rights under the law fully.

NOTE: Veteran Ratings does not handle protected Veteran issues.  However, this information is important for many servicemembers, and we are presenting it here to help Veterans understand their rights and protections under the law.

What is a Protected Veteran?

The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) was created to nullify prejudice or discrimination against Vietnam or Vietnam Era Veterans in the job application process.  Passage of the Act was in response to Veterans who faced a backlash at the time from the general public who served during an unpopular military action.

After discharge, Veterans often found the job market challenging and often discriminatory.  In response, VEVRAA identified “protected Veterans” categories that established rights under certain circumstances.

A similar law, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) was passed in 1994 and amended in 2005. Most U.S. employers must comply with USERRA, and employers who are federal contractors or subcontractors must comply with VEVRAA. Although VEVRAA and USERRA are not limited to Veterans’ disability issues, both provide protections for Veterans with disabilities.

New rules for VEVRAA took effect in 2014 to strengthen affirmative action requirements so that federal contractors and subcontractors with contracts of $100,000 or more improve their efforts to recruit and hire protected Veterans.

Categories of Protected Veterans

VEVRAA defines four categories that qualify for protected Veteran status.  All Veterans in these categories must have a military discharge that was not dishonorable. They include:

Disabled Veterans, if they served in the U.S. military, ground, naval, or air service, are entitled to compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  They may also be considered a protected Veteran if they were discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.

Recently separated Veterans, if they separated from the military or stopped serving on active duty within the past three years.

Campaign badge recipients who served on active duty during a war, campaign, or expedition and received a badge that was authorized by the Department of Defense.

Armed Forces Services Medal Veterans, if they served on active duty during a U.S. military operation for which an Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded under Executive Order 12985.

A Veteran may qualify in more than one category.  Also, the categories of protected Veterans under VEVRAA are slightly different for some federal contracts and subcontracts entered into before December 2003.

Employer Obligations and Responsibilities for Protected Veterans

Not all employers are obliged to abide by VEVRAA, so it is a good idea to ask if a potential employer abides by this law.  While you have the right to ask, an employer does not have the right to ask anyone to identify as a Veteran or protected Veteran.

Under VEVRAA, you cannot be denied employment, harassed, demoted, terminated, paid less, or treated less favorably because of your Veteran status.  But the law requires employers to do more.

Employers cannot refuse protected Veterans any reasonable accommodations in the workplace for disabilities or related issues.  A reasonable accommodation does not change essential job functions.  However, according to the Department of Labor, reasonable accommodation includes any “adjustment or change made to the workplace, or the usual way of performing a job, that allows a disabled Veteran to perform the job duties or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.”

Some examples of adjustments include but are not limited to:

  • Modified and flexible work schedules
  • Modifying or using common meeting areas with accessibility features
  • Adaptive work environments that can be altered to provide greater accessibility
  • Accessible print formats for visually impaired employees
  • Sign language and interpretation of sign language
  • Providing leave for medical care.
  • Providing mechanical or electrical aids.


How to File a Discrimination Complaint as a Protected Veteran

Veteran Ratings does not work with Veterans to file discrimination complaints, but here is what you should know if you want to pursue that action.

If you believe your employer discriminated against you because of your protected Veteran status, you can file a complaint with the U. S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).  You can complete and submit a form online, in person at an OFCCP office, or by mailing, e-mailing, or faxing a completed form to the OFCCP regional office that covers the location where the alleged discrimination occurred.

If you have questions about whether your military service qualifies you as a protected Veteran, call OFCCP at 1-800-397-6251.

Complaints alleging discrimination based on protected Veteran status must be filed within 300 days from the date of the alleged discrimination, but filing can be extended if you can demonstrate good cause.

It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a Veteran for filing a complaint or participating in an investigation. OFCCP’s regulations protect Veterans from harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion, or retaliation for asserting VEVRAA rights.

If a finding determines discrimination took place, Veterans may be entitled to remedies that place them in the position they would have been in if the discrimination had never happened. Veterans may be entitled to be hired,  promoted, reinstated, or reassigned and entitled to back pay, front pay, a pay raise, or some combination of these remedies.

If a federal contractor or subcontractor violated VEVRAA, OFCCP could move to have the company debarred or removed from consideration for future federal contracts or cancel the company’s current contracts or contract modifications.

We Hire Veterans

GTM Companies is a fast-growing and dynamic workplace offering Veterans a chance to make a difference in other service members’ lives.  Our opportunities allow you to put your military experience toward a meaningful career while you learn and expand on your leadership potential.

We genuinely care about Veterans and their families because we consider them part of our family, too.

If you’re interested in joining our team, check out our current job openings here.

Get In Touch

If you are struggling with your VA disability rating or want to learn more about our service, please get in touch with our Veteran Ratings team.

Don’t hesitate! We are happy to answer any of your questions and provide guidance for your unique case.

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