Veterans are prepared to give everything for their country. When returning to civilian life, they should be able to access the assistance they are entitled to. However, veterans can find it tough to qualify for benefits and may even experience unlawful discrimination.
As a veteran, you should not have to struggle to get what you deserve. However, help is available. If you are a veteran, need to sue someone, and do not know what you should do, Morgan & Morgan is here for you. Our experienced attorneys can walk you through your options if you experienced employment or housing discrimination, were denied disability benefits, or have another reason to sue someone. Get started today and contact us for free advice.
Veteran discrimination can occur in almost every sphere of life, whether in housing, employment, healthcare, or another. However, there are various federal laws protecting veterans from unlawful discrimination.
Laws Dealing With Veteran Discrimination
The three primary laws protecting veterans against employment-related discrimination are:
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
- The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
As a veteran, you have re-employment and other rights under federal law. The VEVRAA and USERRA acts prohibit discrimination against veterans re-entering the workforce after serving their country. VEVRAA stipulates that federal contractors and subcontractors must not discriminate against veterans. Moreover, federal employers have to take affirmative action in recruiting, hiring, promoting, and retaining veterans.
Most employers in the U.S. have to comply with USERRA. The act can protect you in three main ways:
- Right to re-employment in your civilian position under most circumstances
- Protection from retaliation and discrimination in employment
- Employment-based health insurance protection of up to 24 months while in the military
Other Protections From Discrimination
Veterans are not only protected due to their veteran status but may also enjoy additional protection due to their race, age, and disability. Moreover, protection extends into all areas of life, not only to employment. As a veteran, you have the right to be treated equally to everyone else and do not have to accept ill-treatment or discrimination based on your status.
Unfortunately, the reality can paint a different picture for veterans. Even the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is not immune to allegations of veteran discrimination. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the most common complaints filed for alleged discrimination at the VA are based on:
The figures are truly staggering. Of the 2,221 complaints in 2009, almost 700 were based on race discrimination. More than 500 complaints dealt with allegations of disability discrimination at the VA.
If you believe that you are the victim of discrimination, get in touch with us. Many of our team members and attorneys are veterans themselves and have personal experience with the issues and stumbling blocks you might be facing. We could help you get justice.
What Veteran Discrimination Can Look Like
Veteran discrimination can be subtle or overt and come in many forms. Employment-related examples can include:
- A listed internal position or promotion suddenly becomes unavailable when you try to apply for it
- Your previous employer will not re-employ you
- You did not receive the same benefits that others received while at work or deployed
- Your veteran status excludes you from the hiring process
It is also illegal to judge job candidates on their medical situation or disability. If an employer states that your condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, makes you unsuitable for a position, they are unlawfully discriminating against you. The only time an employer should raise your disability or medical condition is when asking which type of accommodation you require for the position.
Veterans have a right to fair housing. Moreover, disabled veterans have several additional housing-related protections. It is generally a violation of federal law to deny a disabled veteran a rental unit, mortgage, purchase of a home, rental lease renewal, and other aspects of housing. A disabled applicant must be provided with reasonable accommodations regarding rentals, house purchases, and other housing-related issues.
Discrimination law can be complex, especially when it comes to your veteran status. However, as a veteran, you are entitled to support and certain services that make your transition into civilian life more manageable. You sacrificed a great deal for your country and should not have to fight for these rights. Morgan & Morgan’s veteran attorneys have your back and can advise you on your next best steps if an employer or landlord doesn’t treat you fairly.
Are You Struggling to Receive the Benefits You Deserve?
The VA should be helping veterans in their times of need. However, one of the most common reasons for veterans to file legal action is the denial of benefits.
Veterans Disability Benefits
To be eligible for benefits, veterans need to fulfil certain requirements. Applicants must also receive a disability rating for a service-related condition or injury. To qualify for benefits, veterans must have:
- Suffered an illness or injury on active duty
- Aggravated an existing condition or injury as a result of serving
A veteran can also seek disability benefits if their disability only became apparent after they finished service, provided the condition developed due to active duty.
Getting veterans’ disability benefits can be a challenge. If you are struggling with getting the disability benefits you deserve, a lawyer from our firm can help. Moreover, if you are a veteran and need to sue to receive your benefits, we can help you understand what you should do.
Fighting a Disability Rating
The amount of disability benefit you qualify for directly depends on your disability rating. Therefore, if your disability rating is incorrect and too low, you are getting underpaid and are leaving money on the table. It is important to note that you can appeal against your disability rating, provided you can show new evidence relevant to the appeal.
If your medical condition or disability has worsened over time, you might also be receiving inadequate disability benefits and could be entitled to a higher amount. Veterans generally have the right to request an increased disability rating if their health deteriorates or their disability worsens.
Appealing against a disability rating and getting your rating changed can be tough. If you have been unable to get rated fairly and are battling to secure the disability benefits you need, you could have legal options.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Against the VA
In some cases, veterans have grounds to sue the VA for medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice can arise when you get injured due to the negligence of a VA medical provider or VA hospital. Examples of medical malpractice can include but are not limited to:
- Mistakes in surgery
- Mixing up patients
- Misdiagnosis or late diagnosis
- Lack of aftercare
- Failure to order or interpret diagnostic tests
- Medication mistakes
If you suffered a further injury while treated in a VA medical facility due to medical malpractice, you could seek damages such as:
- Lost income and lost future earning capacity
- Medical expenses and future medical costs
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Mental distress
- Physical pain and anguish
If your loved one passed away due to medical malpractice at a VA facility, you could potentially file a wrongful death lawsuit and receive compensation.