Veterans deserve and receive preferenceWe all can recognize that most aspects of employment law affect how we do business on a daily basis.
By: Melissa Cushing, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
We all can recognize that most aspects of employment law affect how we do business on a daily basis. Some areas of law are the exception and affect only a few employees and employers. While these uncommon laws relate only to the minority, their importance should be recognized.
One such law is the Minnesota Veteran’s Preference Act.
The Minnesota Veteran’s Preference Act grants preferential treatment to veterans in various areas of employment including hiring, promotion and termination. President Roosevelt supported this process and was quoted as saying:
“I believe that the federal government, functioning in its capacity as an employer, should take the lead in assuring those who are in the armed forces that when they return special consideration will be given to them in their efforts to obtain employment.
“It is absolutely impossible to take millions of our young men out of their normal pursuits for the purpose of fighting to preserve the Nation, and then expect them to resume their normal activities without having any special consideration shown them.”
Veteran’s Preference dates back to pre-Civil War times where it was common to appoint personnel to federal positions as a reward for their service in the military.
According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, legislation was written which provided, “Persons honorably discharged from the military or naval service by reason of disability resulting from wounds or sickness incurred in the line of duty shall be preferred for appointments to civil offices, provided they are found to possess the business capacity necessary for the proper discharge of the duties of such offices.”
In 1919, the Deficiency Act was written which included significant legislative changes that provided preferential hiring treatment for spouses. The Deficiency Act remained in effect until the Veterans Preference Act of 1944 was enacted which gave benefits to disabled and non-disabled veterans and wives of veterans.
Since 1944, the law has been amended several times including during the Vietnam conflict and the late 1990s to include veterans participating in the Gulf War.
Currently, a qualified veteran or spouse may request Veteran’s Preference during the hiring process for most public sector positions. For employment in Minnesota, the definition and eligibility of a veteran is defined in Minnesota Statute 197.447.
Preferential treatment is given when a veteran or spousal applicant scores a passing grade during the employment testing process.
A 100-point scale, referred to as Training and Experience rating is created before the hiring process begins. This rating is used to assess previous experience, education and training information provided by job applicants. A veteran with a passing grade will receive five additional points while a disabled veteran receives ten points.
A spouse of a deceased or disabled veteran may also request to receive preference points. These additional points may increase the chances the applicant will receive an interview.
Veteran’s Preference is also used in promotional opportunities and in calculating seniority but of greater importance to the employee is the significance of veteran’s preference during disciplinary, termination or demotion actions.
Public sector employers are required to give a veteran written notice of the intent to terminate their employment. The notice must tell the employee the grounds for dismissal and notify of the right to a Veteran’s Preference hearing. The hearing is held before a neutral panel of three to determine if there are appropriate grounds for dismissal. If the veteran is unhappy with the panel decision, they may appeal to district court.
Clark Dyrud, commissioner of Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, recognizes how much Minnesota veterans have contributed to everyone’s quality of life. Veteran’s Preference regulation is just one benefit for those who have sacrificed so that we may enjoy our freedom.
Melissa Cushing is the Goodhue County human resource manager.