In an effort to enhance the Department of Justice’s ability to protect servicemembers, the Initiative recently submitted to Congress a legislative packet of amendments to three existing federal laws, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA"), the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”), and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 ("UOCAVA"). The Department’s Civil Rights Division protects a servicemember’s civilian employment rights by enforcing USERRA, financial security by enforcing the SCRA, and voting rights by enforcing UOCAVA. The proposed amendments require parties seeking default judgments against servicemembers to first check Department of Defense records to determine duty status, making it more difficult for unscrupulous creditors to take advantage of servicemembers on active duty. The amendments also increase penalties that employers, as well as lending and rental businesses, will face for violating laws designed to protect servicemembers. The legislative proposals expand the number and types of cases the United States can bring in defense of servicemembers attempting to return to their civilian employment upon completion of their military service, and the available remedies for violations of the voting rights of servicemembers and their families while they are overseas. And the proposed amendments seek to protect military families by affording dependent family members the same state residency rights as the servicemember, as well as requiring states to recognize a servicemember spouse’s professional licensures from other states. These important changes will not only enhance the Department’s ability to bring enforcement actions, but also enable these men and women to assert their rights on their own.
Updated March 14, 2016