The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) protects the employment and reemployment rights of federal and nonfederal employees who leave their employment to perform military service. The Department of Labor (DOL) investigates and attempts to resolve claims filed by servicemembers, and if not successful, DOL is to inform the federal claimants that they may request to have their claims referred to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Under a demonstration project, from February 8, 2005, through September 30, 2007, OSC is authorized to receive and investigate certain USERRA claims, with DOL continuing its investigative role for others. As required by Pub. L. No. 108-454, this report describes the (1) processes, (2) outcomes, and (3) major changes during the demonstration project. GAO selected a random sample of cases from DOL's and OSC's databases and traced data for selected elements from the electronic files to source case files.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Labor||1. The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training to incorporate into the formal update to Veterans' Employment Training Service's (VETS) USERRA Operations Manual the guidance from a VETS regional office December 2006 memorandum on the procedures that investigators should follow concerning the notification of a claimant's right to referral and the appropriate closed date in VETS's database.|
|Department of Labor||2. The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training to require all VETS investigators to undergo mandatory training on the procedures to be followed concerning notification of a claimant's right to referral to help ensure that servicemembers know their rights under USERRA.|
|Department of Labor||3. The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training to develop and implement an internal review mechanism for all unresolved claims before claimants are notified of determinations and claims are closed to help ensure adherence to all procedures and standards.|
|Department of Labor||4. The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training to establish a plan of intended actions with target dates for implementing internal controls to ensure that VETS's database accurately reflects: the number of unique USERRA claims filed annually against federal executive branch agencies, the dates those claims were closed, and the outcomes of those claims, to ensure that accurate information on USERRA claims' processing is available to DOL and to Congress.|