Supreme Court Says Veterans Can Sue Texas for Employee Discrimination

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Courtesy of Thomas Hawk (Flickr CC0)

Federal law protects the rights of military service members when they return from active duty. In particular, it protects their right to be reintegrated into civilian life by giving them the necessary tools to do so. This is why there are specific laws governing how returning military members can be hired through certain federal programs and the rights they have when they’re employed in those positions.

On Wednesday Supreme Court said under this federal law state agencies are not immune from private lawsuits protecting the employment rights of returning veterans.

In a 5-4 ruling, Supreme Court will bolster work protections for thousands of returning state-employed veterans after serving in the National Guard or Reserves.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the military anti-discrimination law, a returning military service person can sue Texas if they did not have the opportunity for a new job. The U.S. Supreme Court military anti-discrimination law ensures that returning military with service-related disabilities can return to the civilian workforce.

The legislation could impact thousands of reserve and active service members working for state agencies. Lower courts have an opposing opinion on whether Congress had the power to authorize a private lawsuit.

Supreme Court
Courtesy of Jason Lawrence (Flickr CC0)

The federal government argued that a Supreme Court ruling would give immunity to states and damage the ability of the federal government to defend the nation if the military positions are not filled.

In a 5-4 US Supreme Court vote, the Texas high court ruled about giving immunity under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, protecting military veterans from employment discrimination.

Le Roy Torres was employed as a trooper by the Texas Department of Public Safety from 1998  to 2007 when he was called on active duty. Torres was exposed to toxic burns when deployed in Iraq and had constrictive bronchitis when he returned home after nearly 19  years in the U.S. Army Reserve.

When Torres was honorably discharged, he sought reemployment but with his lung condition, was not only offered a part-time job as a state trooper.

The justices ruled for Army veteran Le Roy Torres and strengthened job protections for returning service members.

Although there are U.S. Supreme Court rules that must be followed for these laws to be upheld, many employers fail to take these obligations seriously enough. As such, it’s crucial for employees who believe their rights have been violated to know their options so that they can protect themselves against future violations of their rights.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

CNN: Supreme Court says states can be sued for discriminating against veterans; by Ariane de Vogue and Tierney Sneed
The Texas Tribune: Military veterans can sue Texas over employee discrimination allegations, U.S. Supreme Court rules; by Sneha Dey
WBAL TV: Supreme Court says states can be sued for discriminating against veterans

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Thomas Hawk‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Jason Lawrence‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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