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August 17, 2020

Enforcing Your Rights Under the SCRA

If you believe your SCRA rights have been violated, you can pursue action with the help of the government or on your own.

Assistance from the Department of Justice

In 2010, the SCRA was amended by Congress to grant authority to the U.S. Department of Justice to bring lawsuits in federal court against individuals or entities that violate the SCRA, particularly where the violations are part of a “pattern or practice” or when the violation rises to the level of “significant public importance.”

If you believe your SCRA rights have been violated, you should talk with a military legal assistance attorney. Your attorney can advise you whether you have a matter that may be appropriate for handling by the Department of Justice and how to proceed. Keep in mind, however, that the Department of Justice will not be representing you as an individual, like a civilian attorney might, but will instead be representing the interests of the United States. If a federal court ultimately finds that the defendant in an action brought by the Department has violated the SCRA, it may award both monetary damages to you and a civil penalty to the United States. If the Department of Justice brings a case on your behalf, you will have the option of retaining your own lawyer who can intervene in the case on your behalf. Talk with your military attorney about this.

Your right to sue and your remedies

If your SCRA rights have been violated, you can hire a lawyer and sue on your own. The SCRA provides you the right to sue and a number of possible remedies, including the recovery of monetary damages, your legal costs, and your attorney fees. As stated above, you should first talk with your military attorney about whether you might have an SCRA case. Your military attorney can advise you, but cannot represent you in suing the other party. You will need to find a civilian attorney with SCRA expertise who can do this. Our Directory of Programs may list a Lawyer Referral Service or Military-Specific Program that can connect you to a civilian attorney with the proper expertise.