New Jersey SAJA Employment Law Attorneys
In May of 2012, Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey introduced the Service members Access to Justice Act (SAJA). The SAJA was introduced in part to strengthen the enforcement prerogatives already contained in the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Although SAJA was introduced in 2008, the Veterans Committee failed to act on it, leaving certain enforcement issues regarding USERRA unresolved.
Now, under Sen. Casey’s reintroduced version of SAJA, the employment rights of service members has been strengthened, making it all the more important for employers to take note of the following changes:
- Under SAJA, employers cannot force servicemembers to relinquish a claim to having their old job back as a condition of employment. This means an employer cannot force an employee who is in the reserves to agree to give up his job in the event he is called into active duty. Under the proposed terms of SAJA, a service member has the right to voluntarily leave their job should they be deployed but they can’t be forced to do so as a requirement of their being hired in the first place.
- SAJA requires federal agencies to notify contractors of any and all USERRA obligations.
- SAJA includes different remedies for service members who prove that employers have violated their rights. Of particular interest to employers is the fact that SAJA provides for minimum and punitive damages in cases where willful violations have occurred.
- SAJA contains a provision for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) involving a study of education programs offered by employers. As part of this reporting process, the GAO is authorized to solicit recommendations for ways in which government agencies like the Defense Department Employer Support for Guard and Reserve can increase and facilitate compliance with SAJA.
New Jersey Employers and the Service members Access to Justice Act
It is in the interest of employers to prepare for passage and enforcement of the SAJA. Current employee materials like employee handbooks and any orientation or training manuals, should clearly articulate compliance with existing federal and state law that applies to service members. While the financial cost can be prohibitive, a reputation for making it difficult for service members to defend their country and make a living can have untold consequences for your company.
For more information regarding SAJA and USERRA, contact Moorestown, New Jersey employment law attorneys at LaVan Law today.