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Planning the USERRA Investigation. Organization Critical ■ Prepare a written investigation plan ■ Plot your intended course of action ■ Organize your.

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Presentation on theme: "Planning the USERRA Investigation. Organization Critical ■ Prepare a written investigation plan ■ Plot your intended course of action ■ Organize your."— Presentation transcript:

1 Planning the USERRA Investigation

2 Organization Critical ■ Prepare a written investigation plan ■ Plot your intended course of action ■ Organize your thoughts, focus your activity ■ Update the plan periodically

3 Written Investigation Plan ■ set timeline for actions, track completion dates ■ use as discussion guide to seek advice and technical support from VETS or SOL ■ use to promptly and accurately respond to request for progress update ■ required by Ops manual (Ch. 6)

4 ■ Identity of claimant and employer: --name, rank, unit, months/years of service --most recent period/location of service, MOS --pre-service employer, pre-service job, location of employer, size of employer Written Investigation Plan

5 ■ Nature of claim: --reemployment, reemployment position, termination --seniority or non-seniority benefits --medical/pension benefits --discrimination, retaliation --what regulations apply? --just USERRA? PPP? VEOA? VEVRAA?

6 ■ Nature of claim: --what happened? to whom? --what is the adverse action? --what are the damages? quantify? --any legal issues for which SOL help will be needed? (e.g., successor employer) Written Investigation Plan

7 ■ Who are main witnesses? --identity, contact info --co-workers, supervisor(s), HR staff, regional/corporate staff, family, unit commander, union rep, etc.

8 Written Investigation Plan ■ Additional info needed : --claimant’s personnel file --personnel manual/handbook --other employees personnel files --seniority lists, organization charts --employer policies --medical/pension plan documents --emails, photos --statements or co-workers, supervisors --collective bargaining agreement (CBA)

9 Written Investigation Plan ■ Additional info needed : --job posting sheets, job bids/selection notices --job applications --work schedules --written warnings or reprimands --grievances --arbitration agreements --payroll records/policies --UI file, hearing decisions

10 Written Investigation Plan ■ Logistical support: --private meeting room, phone, voice recorder, camera, laptop, etc. ■ Schedule of investigation actions: --contacting claimant/witnesses; obtaining documents; letter to employer

11 Written Investigation Plan ■ Preliminary questions for key witnesses: --who, what, when, where, how, why --ask same questions of all --don’t ask leading questions (yes/no) --who else would know? --documents to prove?

12 Opening Letter to Employer ■ legal citation to USERRA; ■ name of claimant, status (active duty, Reservist, National Guard, non-member, etc.) ■ individual seeks assistance under USERRA ■ specifics of the complaint, remedies sought ■ applicable sections of USERRA regulations

13 ■ request copy of CBA, arbitration agreement, employee handbook/policies ■ request that the employer provide position statement in response to claim--including documents--by date certain to VETS Opening Letter to Employer

14 The Interview ■ Always interview claimant first --even if you think an interview is a waste of time --you must clarify the claimant’s allegations --claimant may provide more specific details, help identify other witnesses

15 The Interview --claimant interview can help you develop questions for other witnesses or identify documentation needed for MOR --making claimant restate allegations can suggest other areas of inquiry, or indicate if allegations are based on assumptions or hearsay --open, explore, close --don’t accept assertions or take statements at face value; ask for proof

16 The Interview ■ Do not take sides --It is easy to be co-opted; keep an open mind --a party will naturally try to win you over to their point of view; wait until all evidence is in -- your conclusions may change once you have an opportunity to analyze the documents --do not discuss your conclusions before you complete your MOR; they may change as you write your analysis --be a good listener; develop rapport; it does not signify support

17 The Interview --Use silence to your advantage – let the witness fill the void --Paraphrase to check for understanding --Provide appropriate, non-biased feedback --Avoid remarks that might introduce bias --Avoid verbal or non-verbal cues implying criticism, surprise, approval or disapproval --Avoid factual evaluations – e.g., “obviously” you have a “clear-cut” case

18 The Interview ■ Closing the interview --Invite questions --Explain the next steps --Have witness review/sign statement --Stay in touch --Thank the witness

19 The Investigation ■ Investigate the claim, not the claimant --focus on the allegations, not the person --put aside your sympathies --claimant may be frustrated, overstate case --claimant’s perception is his/her reality --view allegations through the lens of USERRA

20 The Investigation ■ Remember… --claimants lack expertise in USERRA rights/benefits --observers will be watching you and assessing the credibility of the USERRA process --be candid: if additional info would help but is not available, say so. --don’t let memory fade, write your MOR as soon as you can

21 Different Types of Evidence ■ Direct evidence --shows actual, subjective intent of the person(s) --statement or admission, as when a person explains or justifies actions --facts tending to establish motives of persons involved

22 Different Types of Evidence ■ Circumstantial evidence --facts from which one may infer intent or motive --proves intent through objective/observable data --does not directly prove subjective intent --e.g., info on how service members have been treated in past, or timing of adverse action

23 Different Types of Evidence ■ Comparative evidence --shows difference(s) in treatment of similarly-situated individuals --is different treatment based on status? --e.g., comparing benefits provided to service members on leave vs. employees on extended leave (disability, paternity/maternity)


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