Minnesota Private Employers May Extend Veterans Preference
On August 1, 2012, private employers in Minnesota may grant veterans preference in hiring and promotion decisions without violating state or federal law. The unemployment rate for Minnesota veterans is nearly double the rate of civilians, according to the Minnesota National Guard. During the 2011-2012 Minnesota legislative session, a new law was passed which aims to provide some assistance to those honorable women and men still struggling to make a living after bravely serving our county. Under the new law, such preference may be extended to spouses of disabled or deceased veterans as well.
The new law affirmatively states that a private employer’s choice to grant veterans preference is not a violation of the state’s Human Rights Act (MHRA). Such a preference will not in itself violate Title VII, either, because such preference is lawful if permitted under state law. Neither the EEOC nor the courts have found a Title VII violation where state law has authorized private employers to extend veterans preference as Minnesota’s new law does.
If a Minnesota employer chooses to implement a veterans preference policy, it should be careful to do so in a non-discriminatory manner. A private employer’s choice to extend a preference to veterans should be without regard to gender, race, or any other protected category in order to avoid discrimination liability under state or federal law.
For assistance in drafting and implementing a veterans preference policy that would comply with both state and federal law, contact a labor & employment attorney
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