Laws that Protect Veterans and Military Status
A range of protections for veterans, servicemembers and those considering military service exist on the federal and state level. But some jurisdictions offer more protection than others. Scroll down to review this listing.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 is a federal law intended to ensure that persons who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, Reserves, National Guard or other "uniformed services:"
- are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service;
- are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from duty; and
- are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service. The federal government is to be a "model employer" under USERRA (38 U.S.C. § 4301).
The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA)
The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) requires covered federal government contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment specified categories of veterans protected by the Act and prohibits discrimination against such veterans.
Minnesota Statute § 192.34 — Discrimination with respect to employment
Minnesota law (§ 192.34) provides that an employer may not discharge an employee, interfere with military service, or dissuade an employee from enlisting by threatening employee's job. The statute reads: "It shall be unlawful for any employer to discharge any person from employment because of membership in the military or naval forces of the United States, of this state, or any other state, or to hinder or prevent any person from performing any military service that person may be called upon to perform by proper authority, or to dissuade any person from enlistment in the military service by threat or injury, in case that person shall so enlist, in respect to that person's employment, trade or business. Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a gross misdemeanor."
Minnesota Statute § 181.535 — Armed Forces Reserves Or National Guard Status
This statute prohibits employers from asking job seekers about military status if the intent of the question is to discriminate.
The statute reads in part:
- No person, whether acting directly or through an agent or
as the agent or employee of another, may, with intent to discriminate:
- ask a person seeking employment with that person or the employer represented by that person whether the person seeking employment is a member of the National Guard or a reserve component of the United States armed forces; or
- (2) require the person seeking employment to make any oral or written statement concerning National Guard or reserve status as a condition precedent to employment
- The adjutant general and the commissioner of veterans affairs shall use reasonable means to publicize this section. This section does not apply to public employers asking a question or requesting a statement for the purpose of determining whether a veterans preference applies. The complete text is available here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=181.535 Minnesota Statute § 197.455 — Veterans Preference Applied This statute governs veteran's preference under the civil service laws, charter provisions, ordinances, rules or regulations of a county, city, town, school district, or other municipality or political subdivision of this state. The complete text is available here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=197.455
Minnesota Statute § 197.46 — Veterans Preference Act; Removal Forbidden; Right Of Mandamus
This statute provides additional protection from termination for veterans separated from military service under honorable conditions, including requirement for a hearing. The complete text is available here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=197.46
Minnesota Statute § 609.115 — Presentence Investigation
Subd. 10 of Minnesota's pre-sentence investigation statute provides a safety net to ensure that a veteran's psychological issues are taken into account in the sentencing portion of a case. The statute reads in part:
Subd. 10. Military veterans.
- When a defendant appears in court and is convicted of a crime, the court shall inquire whether the defendant is currently serving in or is a veteran of the armed forces of the United States.
- If the defendant is currently
serving in the military or is a veteran and has been diagnosed
as having a mental illness by a qualified psychiatrist
or clinical psychologist or physician, the court may:
- order that the officer preparing the report under subdivision 1 consult with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, or another agency or person with suitable knowledge or experience, for the purpose of providing the court with information regarding treatment options available to the defendant, including federal, state, and local programming; and
- consider the treatment recommendations of any diagnosing or treating mental health professionals together with the treatment options available to the defendant in imposing sentence.
Minnesota Statute § 192.325 — Discrimination Against Family of Service Member; Unpaid Leave Required
This statute prohibits an employer from discharging or taking an adverse employment action against an employee because that employee's spouse, parent, or child is a member of the military forces of the United States, of Minnesota, or any other state. The employer must also provide non-paid time off for an employee to attend departure and return ceremonies, family readiness and other official events held on behalf of a family member who is in the military.
Laws in Other States
States that have added military status as a protected class to their state human rights or anti-discrimination laws include Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, and others.
In addition, prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of military status exist in some form in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
More information on how other states protect military status can be found in the 2010 winter issue of The Rights Stuff (PDF).
Wisconsin Fair Employment Law Wisconsin Statutes Sections 111.31-111.395 provide that it is unlawful for employers, employment agencies, labor unions and licensing agencies to discriminate against employees and job applicants because of "Military Service," in addition to race, age, sex, disability, arrest record and a host of other protected classes. The laws state that an individual may not be discriminated against in employment "because the individual is or applies to be a member of the U.S. armed forces, the state defense force, the National Guard of any state, or any reserve component of the U.S. armed forces or because the individual performs, has performed, applies to perform, or has an obligation to perform military service."
The protection for military status does not apply if the individual "has been discharged from military service under a bad conduct, dishonorable, or other than honorable discharge," if the employer can show that the circumstances of the discharge or separation substantially relate to the circumstances of the particular job.
Illinois Human Rights Act. The Illinois Human Rights Act protects military status and other protected classes in employment, real estate transactions, access to financial credit, and the availability of public accommodations. The law defines military status to include "a person's status on active duty in or status as a veteran of the armed forces of the United States, status as a current member or veteran of any reserve component of the armed forces of the United States, including the United States Army Reserve, United States Marine Corps Reserve, United States Navy Reserve, United States Air Force Reserve, and United States Coast Guard Reserve, or status as a current member or veteran of the Illinois Army National Guard or Illinois Air National Guard.
Ohio Revised Code 4112.02 - Unlawful discriminatory practices. Ohio law (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4112.02) prohibits discrimination based on military status in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit. The military status provisions were added in 2007 and took effect in 2008. The act defines military status as "service in the uniformed services," including voluntary or involuntary service in the U.S. armed forces, full-time National Guard duty, and duty or training for the Ohio Organized Militia. In addition to protection against refusal to hire, termination or other discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment, Ohio law prohibits employer from asking about military status (or other protected classes), or including it on job application forms or in advertisements.
Revised Code of Washington Chapter 49.60, Discrimination — human rights commission. Since 2007 the state of Washington has included "honorably discharged veteran or military status" as a protected characteristic in employment, public accommodations, real estate, and credit.
New York State Executive Law, Article 15, Human Rights Law. The law prohibits discrimination in employment, education, housing and public accommodations based on military status, defined to include "a person's participation in the military service of the United States or the military service of the state, including but not limited to, the armed forces of the United States, the army national guard, the air national guard, the New York naval militia, the New York guard, and such additional forces as may be created by the federal or state government as authorized by law."
General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 151B: Section 4. Unlawful practices. The Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination in employment based on current or anticipated military status was passed and went into effect in 2004. It has since been illegal under Chapter 151B for an employer or an employment agency "to deny initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion or any benefit of employment to a person who is a member of, applies to perform, or has an obligation to perform, service in a uniformed military service of the United States, including the National Guard, on the basis of that membership, application or obligation. Another provision of 151B prohibits housing discrimination based on "veteran status or membership in the armed forces."