A range of protections for veterans, service members and those considering military service exist on the federal and state level.
From the Rights Stuff Newsletter, Winter 2011
Laws that Protect Veterans and Military Status
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
Statute § 181.535 prohibits employers from asking job seekers about military status if the intent of the question is to discriminate.
The statute reads in part:
a. No person, whether acting directly or through an agent or as the agent or employee of another, may, with intent to discriminate:
1. 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
b. 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 — Veteran's 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
Veteran's Preference Act
Minnesota’s Veterans’ Preference Act (Minn. Stat. 197.46 et seq.) provides public employment benefits and protections to veterans of military service, including additional protection from termination for veterans separated from military service under honorable conditions, including requirement for a hearing.
Veteran's Preference and Private Employers
In 2012, the Legislature enacted a law that permits a private nonpublic employer to grant a preference to veterans in hiring and promotion, provided that granting such preference does not violate any local or state equal employment opportunity law, including the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The law also allows private employers to grant a preference to spouses of deceased or disabled veterans.
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.
a. 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.
b. 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:
1. 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
2. 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
Statute § 192.325 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.
More information on Minnesota laws protecting Veterans and Service members is available on the State Attorney General's website.
More information on federal laws protecting the job rights of Veterans and Reserve members is available on the United States Department of Labor website.