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Veterans Day: Considering Employing a Veteran?

Yesterday was Veterans Day, a time to remember the courageous men and women who fought for our freedom and security. Due to their sacrifice, the federal and state governments ask employers to take steps to give veterans jobs. But can an employer choose to hire a veteran over another candidate simply because he or she is a veteran?

The simple answer: Yes.

For years, Minnesota has worked to give veterans hiring advantages. This year, for example, a new law was passed that allows private sector employers to give preference to promoting and hiring veterans and, in certain cases, their spouses. Employers can actively choose to promote or hire a veteran's spouse over other candidates if the veteran was permanently and totally disabled in service or is deceased.

The Minnesota Veterans Preference Act (VPA) traditionally allowed the preference in the state's public sector but not the private sector. There is hope that the new law will reduce the number of out-of-work veterans.

Other employment laws that favor veterans include:

  • The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides that veterans should not be disadvantaged or discriminated against in their civilian careers due to their service, and should be promptly reemployed in their previous jobs after returning from duty.
  • Minnesota Statute, section 192.34, Discrimination With Respect to Employment, provides that employers may not fire, threaten termination or take any other action to dissuade an employee from enlisting or on account of his or her military status.
  • Minnesota Statute, section 181.535, Armed Forces Reserves or National Guard Status, provides that employers may not ask a job applicant about his or her military status in order to discriminate against him or her.
  • Minnesota Statute, section 192.325, Discrimination Against Family of Service Member; Leave Required, provides that an employer may not take adverse action against an employee because his or her spouse is a military member. Employers must also give unpaid time off to allow employees to attend departure ceremonies, return ceremonies and other military-related events.

If you are an employer considering hiring a veteran or you have other employment-related concerns involving a veteran employee, an experienced employment law attorney can help you determine your rights and obligations under the law.

Source: Star Tribune Business, "Business forum: Veterans armed with job protection," Marshall Tanick, Nov. 11, 2012

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