Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Veterans’ Rights

Military veterans and some of their spouses had a new statute to celebrate on Veteran’s Day last November.  They may obtain preference in hiring and promotions in the private sector under a new law enacted in the last legislative session.  The measure authorizes private sector employers to grant unspecified “preference” in hiring and promotion to three classes of persons:  (1) Veterans of the armed services; (2) spouses of a veteran with a permanent and total service-related disability; and (3) spouses of deceased veterans.  The law parallels some preferences required to be given to veterans and spouses and disabled vets in competitive hiring tests in the public sector.  The measure also complements the longstanding Veteran’s Preference Act, Minn. Stat. §197.46; Minn. Stat. §43A.11, which bars discharge of most honorably discharged veterans in the public sector except for “incompetency or misconduct”; and other state and federal laws that give various preferential rights to veterans, particularly in workplace matters.

The Minnesota Human Rights precludes discrimination against employees because of their status as military veterans.  But the new private-sector measure bars claims that preference in hiring and promotion violates the rights of nonveterans.  Employers are not obligated under the new measure to grant such preference, but are immune from liability if they choose to do so.  Employers exercising their authority should adopt written policies dealing with preferential treatment of veterans or covered spouses in hiring and promotion.

Marshall H. Tanick

Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC, Edina

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