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Press Release

AAJ Applauds Bipartisan Bill to Empower Servicemembers Fighting Service-Related Employment Discrimination

"Justice for Servicemembers Act" Would Reopen Courthouse Doors for USERRA Claims

June 10,2016

Washington, DC— The American Association for Justice applauds today’s introduction of the bipartisan “Justice for Servicemembers Act,” which would clarify that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) guarantees members of the military the right to enforce their USERRA rights in court, even when their employer has buried a forced arbitration clause in its employment agreement. The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

“The brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces selflessly fight to protect our rights. It is despicable that corporations would attempt to deny them their rights through the abusive use of forced arbitration,” AAJ President Larry Tawwater said. “The ‘Justice for Servicemembers Act’ will clarify a critical provision in USERRA that will stop this shameful practice and guarantee that members of our military can fully and fairly enforce their rights in court.”

In 1994, Congress overwhelmingly passed USERRA to prohibit corporations from discriminating against their employees on the basis of military service, including a celebrated ban on firing reservists who are called to active duty. However, by burying a forced arbitration clause in the fine print of employment agreements, corporations are able to evade USERRA protections and discriminate against service members without ever being held accountable in court. Instead, service members attempting to assert their USERRA rights are kicked out of court and funneled into a rigged, secretive arbitration proceeding decided by an arbitrator chosen by the employer.

The “Justice for Servicemembers Act” would allow service members to pursue any employment discrimination cases that arise under USERRA in federal court instead of employer-forced arbitration, while preserving the option to enter into an arbitration agreement after a dispute arises.

Sarah Jones