U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
USERRA Demonstration Project Concluded
Servicemember Claims May Not Be Submitted to OSC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 3, 2008***
CONTACT: James Mitchell, 202-254-3607,
WASHINGTON, DC – As of January 1, 2008, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) will no longer directly accept claims made by federally employed servicemembers under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). USERRA protects the rights of those who are absent from employment due to military service.
A USERRA demonstration project mandated by law in 2004 gave OSC authority to receive and investigate USERRA claims brought by certain federal employees against their agencies, rather than the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). The demonstration project was to evaluate whether OSC’s expertise in enforcing prohibited personnel practices in the federal workplace could strengthen USERRA enforcement for federal employees.
During the demonstration project, OSC and VETS shared responsibility for investigating these USERRA claims. OSC accepted claims from federal employees whose Social Security number ends in an odd-numbered digit, while VETS investigated “even-numbered” claims.
The demonstration project, which began February 8, 2005, was to have ended on September 30, 2007. However, Congress extended the demonstration project until December 31. With the expiration of the demonstration project, OSC no longer has the authority to accept directly the claims of servicemembers.
“The authority of OSC to both investigate and prosecute USERRA claims has been effective in protecting the rights of servicemembers,” said Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch. “It is unfortunate that the outcome of the demonstration project has been inconclusive, and we will no longer be able to provide this support to those who protect us. OSC’s corrective action in one in four cases in a quick timeframe is very successful and shows the service member wins when OSC gets the case at the beginning. The nation should ensure that as members of the National Guard and Reserve begin to return from in Iraq, Afghanistan and other active duty assignments, we have the most efficient and effective mechanisms in place to protect their employment rights.”
OSC will continue to have a role in USERRA enforcement. The law specifies that, if VETS is unable to resolve a federal sector claim, the claimant may request that VETS refer the matter to OSC, which may then represent the claimant before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency and operates as a secure channel for disclosures of whistleblower complaints. Its primary mission is to safeguard the merit system in federal employment by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially retaliation for whistleblowing. OSC also has jurisdiction over the Hatch Act. For more information please visit our web site at www.osc.gov or call 1 (800) 872-9855.
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