By Debbie Gregory.
Much attention has recently been given to the advantages employers see by hiring veterans, highlighting veterans’ exemplary work ethics and solid skill sets. Recently, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced that the unemployment rate for all veterans has dropped for the fourth consecutive year. This is evidence that more employers are realizing the benefits of hiring veterans.
While veterans have been given preferences when applying for federal job opportunities, as established in Section 712 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, private employers are now stepping up to create policies to give higher consideration to veteran candidates. Seventeen states now have voluntary veteran preference policies including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Utah.
In considering a veteran preference policy, employers need to approach the decision with more than an attitude of supporting those who have served their country. Employers must comply with the laws that are imposed in the state their operation is in. The preference should be extended to veterans who are truly qualified for the position. If implemented, the policy would need to be in writing and inclusive of not only the new hire, but identify steps for promotions and company-wide downsizing.
With employers encouraging veterans to apply for their positions, it does create a challenge for companies to also follow EEOC guidelines for women candidates. The percentage of women veterans is disproportionate to their male counterparts, meaning that companies must be cautious not to be discriminatory when establishing veteran preference guidelines. Unless there is a state law with specific veteran preference policies in place, employers may be scrutinized or accused of violating Title VII. A 1990 Policy Guidance on Veterans’ Preference Under Title VII notice cites that veteran preferences may negatively impact women’s chances of being hired, thus employers may need to fall back on state authority when implementing their veteran preference guidelines.
With more states realizing the need to establish these policies to assure opportunities are there for veterans, private companies will need to weigh their options for best practices as they ensure the considerations are inclusive of their veteran candidates.
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Military Connection: Veteran Hiring Preferences Gain Interest: by Debbie Gregory