Unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot of discrimination cases involving armed forces personnel these days. Under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), employers may not discriminate against active armed services personnel and veterans in employment, but unfortunately a lot of employers are ignoring the law. A recent case from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, although not from a Georgia court, is a good reminder of the rights of armed services personnel and veterans to be free from employment discrimination.
In Davis v. Advocate Health Center Patient Care Express, Advocate briefly employed Robert Davis, a Vietnam veteran, as an answering service agent in the spring of 2007. During his probationary period, Advocate fired Davis, and Davis in turn filed a federal discrimination case against Advocate under the USERRA, claiming that it fired him because of his prior military service. Davis also asked the court to waive the filing fee for his case, claiming that the USERRA excused him from having to pay such fees. The lower court disagreed with Davis, concluding that the statute did not waive fees because such an interpretation would encourage frivolous lawsuits.
On appeal, the Seventh Circuit agreed with Davis and reversed the lower court, holding that Congress’s intent in enacting the statute was to waive the filing fee for covered service personnel. The court noted that his rule applies whether or not the individual can actually afford to pay the fee.