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.