Protected Veteran Status Rights – Can Employers Discriminte Against Disabled Veterans?

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Many military veterans struggle to find work after they separate from the military. There are many reasons for this. The economy is still in recovery mode, there may be a mismatch of skills between the veteran and the available jobs he or she is applying to, and sometimes employers don’t understand the skills veterans bring…

Many military veterans struggle to find work after they separate from the military. There are many reasons for this. The economy is still in recovery mode, there may be a mismatch of skills between the veteran and the available jobs he or she is applying to, and sometimes employers don’t understand the skills veterans bring to the table.

Unfortunately, there can also be a stigma against veterans, especially those who have served in combat. A recent article on CNN Money stated that even though overall unemployment rates for veterans has dropped in recent months, some veterans are struggling to find work because some employers avoid hiring vets with PTSD because the employers fear there will be an “episode” in the workplace. A similar story was reported on MilitaryTimes.com. These fears and misconceptions are often unspoken, but they can be very real. Not only is this line of thinking wrong, but it is potentially illegal. Many military veterans qualify for Protected Veteran Status, which offers anti-discrimination protections.

anti-discrimination employment laws
There is no room for discrimination in our society.

I recently received a question from a reader who is struggling to find work. He asked:

Are certain industries opposed to hiring retired middle aged vets with service-connected disabilities?

This is a great question, and one that deserves a very careful answer. Employers have a lot of leeway regarding who they hire, and right now, there are often dozens, if not hundreds, or applicants for every job opening. With so many applicants, employers have an easy time of choosing who they feel is the best person for the job. But discrimination against veterans is a very important topic, and one that veterans need to be aware of.

I will do my best to cover a few relevant topics related to this question, primarily Equal Employment Opportunity laws and discrimination. Please keep in mind, I am not a lawyer, and this article is based on my understanding of the laws and how they work. While the law is very clear in defining certain “protected classes” of workers, companies are not obligated to offer a job to all qualified applicants, or to someone who meets one of the qualifications of a protected class.

Let’s take a look at what these protected classes are, and see how this relates to veterans, both with and without service-connected disabilities.

Anti-Discrimination Laws in Hiring

In the US, employers are prohibited from discriminating against certain classes of people with regard to employment. This includes hiring, firing, pay and benefits, retirement plans, compensation, promotions, assignments, transfers, layoffs, and other conditions of employment.

It is illegal to discriminate against people based on their race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disabilities, genetic makeup and family status. Here is a sampling some relevant national laws (please keep in mind some states have additional laws):

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (amended in 2008)

(Please see the EEO FAQ page for more info).

Protected Veteran Status Rights

protected veterans statusCertain military veterans qualify for Protected Veteran Status under The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA). This law gives certain veterans some similar protections as the classes listed above, and also requires employers working with the federal government to proactively recruit, hire, and promote certain classes of veterans including: disabled veterans (determined as those who receive disability compensation from the VA, or would be eligible, but for retired military pay), veterans who served on active duty during a war or campaign when a badge was authorized, recently separated veterans, and veterans who participated in a U.S. military operation that received an Armed Forces service medal.

Rights under the Protected Veterans Status: “As a protected veteran under Section 4212, you have the right to work in an environment free of discrimination. You cannot be denied employment, harassed, demoted, terminated, paid less or treated less favorably because of your veteran status. If you are an employee and a disabled veteran you can request, and your employer must provide you, “reasonable accommodation,” to allow you to perform your job, unless doing so would cause the employer significant difficulty or expense.”

This law does two things: VEVRAA requires certain employers to proactively recruit, hire, and promote protected veterans, and it includes anti-discrimination laws.

Sources: Protected Veterans Rights fact sheet, Dept of Labor, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) program.

Employment Rights for Reservists and Guard Members

Military members who serve in the Reserves or National or Air National Guard also have special rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This law prohibits discrimination based on service in the Reserve Corps and requires civilian employers to keep jobs open for Reserve Corps members who are called to duty. Employers are required to leave the job open for them when they return or provide them with a similar job when they come back. There are more details to this law, so if you are in the Guard or Reserves, you should familiarize yourself with it in more detail.

Source: USERRA fact sheet.

What Does this Mean for Veterans?

OK, now that we have the technical stuff out of the way, let’s take some time to distill this into terms we can understand and see if we can answer our reader’s question: “Are certain industries opposed to hiring retired middle aged vets with service-connected disabilities?”

Our reader is asking about three protected classes of workers, all wrapped into one: age, veteran, and disability.

Does discrimination happen? I’m sure it does on many levels. Outright discrimination against someone based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disabilities, genetic makeup, family status, prior military service, or any other condition is wrong. No excuses.

But before we assign blame, we should first realize that employers have a lot of flexibility when making hiring decisions. Employers have the right to hire the best person for the job. The only thing they cannot do is discriminate against any of the protected classes during the hiring process or when making employment decisions. When there are dozens or hundreds of people applying for the job, they can make hiring decisions that may seem unfair in the surface. But the hiring decision may be 100% reasonable when all applicants and additional information is taken into consideration. In other words, being a member of a protected class doesn’t guarantee you a job—you still have to be the best person for the job.

How to Increase Your Odds of Being Hired

My recommendation is to take a step back and look at each job application from the hiring manager’s and company’s perspective. What job are they trying to fill? What concerns may they have about potential employees?

Your role as a job seeker is to do everything in your power to show an employer you are the best person for the job. This means:

* I don’t advocate lying on resumes or during job interviews. But that doesn’t mean you should volunteer information that may be unfavorable, or may sway an employer’s opinion. For example, there is no reason you should mention you have a service-connected disability in your resume or in an interview unless the disability would prevent you from completing assigned job requirements.

Recognize and understand how to answer illegal interview questions. Some questions are illegal for interviewers to ask during interviews. These include questions about the protected items listed above: race, religion, age, ethnicity, disability, etc. However, there are related questions employers can legally ask. For example, an employer cannot ask you if you are disabled, but they can ask you if you are physically able to perform all related job requirements.

As a job seeker, it’s important to recognize these questions, and how to answer them. Here are some tips for recognizing and answering illegal interview questions:

Take some time to review these questions and answers, and make sure your resume doesn’t include anything that could give an employer second thoughts about hiring you.

What to Do if You Have Been Discriminated Against

This is a tough situation to deal with. It is unfair, unjust, and illegal. If you believe a company has broken the law, then you have options. The Department of Labor lists a few steps you can take in their FAQ page. You may also consider seeking legal counsel (try finding a lawyer who specializes in employment or labor law).

Keep in mind it is often up to the employee to prove discrimination occurred. This may be difficult to do unless it is in writing or you can prove your employer took action against you based on your status. (Then you would have to ask yourself if you want to work for a company that would discriminate against you).

The best course of action is to keep detailed notes of your interactions with the employer and try to work things out on your own first. If that doesn’t work, then contact the Department of Labor or a lawyer who specializes in labor law for further guidance.

Image credit: Brett Jordan

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of The Military Wallet. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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  1. Nick says

    I am a marine corps veteran doing a tour to Afghanistan in 2011 I have a va disability rating from the va , I have been having trouble getting into law enforcement for a few years now , so I ended up putting my self through a police academy and getting hired at a small dept part time , now that I am a fully certified officer and that im excelling where I am at I am ready to go to a larger dept and work 1 job full time instead of multiple , I have had numerous depts and chief refuse to hire be because of my rating and yes me that I’m a liability even tho I am the top applicant up until the pysch , which I have been told that’s the company that does the psych judges me negatively based apon my va rating which is illegal with the ada act , I have had chief ask me to get ride of my rating and told me I wasn’t getting hired because I have PTSD which I don’t it’s anxiety , I have never had a complaint or incident as a cop , I am excelling but I’m not being giving the chance to get past the pysch by these depts , I need help .

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Nick, I’m sorry to hear about this issue. This is outside my area of expertise – I am not familiar with the hiring practices of law enforcement agencies, nor do I know under which grounds they can deny someone employment. 

      I recommend contacting a lawyer that specializes in employment law. They will be able to interview you, learn more about your situation, and help you to determine if there is a course of action to take.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  2. Phillip McLaughlin says

    Dear Ryan.
    I would like to know who can help me? I’m a Veteran, Marine Corps, Desert Shield / Desert Storm, 1990/1991. I’m Service Connected 100%, for Post Traumatic Stress! I was physically Assaulted a couple of years ago. I’m unable to find legal counsel because of financial constraints. The Criminal Case was settled. The Defendant got a Slap on The Wrist! I am getting no Justice! the Civil Case is pending. I Have no legal Representation I am Considering Representing myself! Which is not a good Idea I know! Pro bono attorneys have a ridiculous percentage, Representation Fees! Can you help me or know of who can? Thanks

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Phillip, I’m sorry to hear about this situation. This is outside of my area of expertise. I don’t know where to go for assistance. But if it were me, I would likely try to hire a lawyer that would work on a contingency basis and would take a percentage of the settlement, if there is one. Having a better chance at winning a settlement and giving up a percentage of it is better than having a lesser chance of winning a settlement and keeping all of it (because you don’t get anything if you don’t win a settlement). Additionally, a lawyer may be able to negotiate a larger settlement, helping defray some of the cost of hiring them on a contingency basis.

  3. Greg says

    I just got let go (company is claiming undue hardship) and stated that I am not protected under the ADA, because of a VA doctors recommendation asking for reasonable accommodations to work via remote, the only thing that would require me to be in office is to set up someone’s station, other than that our office is all cloud-based and devices are all managed remotely, before this decision I was already allowed to work from home 2 days a week and was coming off of short term disability when they got this recommendation. And never got a review as I was out on short term disability during that process.
    I currently have a rating from the VA for disability from 10 years ago and that is about to increase due to worsening of a service-related disability.

  4. Scott says

    Ryan, if a person is terminated during their probationary period working for the Department of Veterans Affairs does the veterans status apply and are special accommodations warranted in transitioning that person out of the government organization? Thanks!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Scott, Great question. I’m not sure of the answer, however. Many organizations have probationary periods and I’m not sure which rules apply under those circumstances.

      This is outside my area of expertise, so I recommend speaking with a legal professional who specializes in employment law. They would have the best answer.

  5. Francisco Gonzalez says

    A military disabled veteran is employed by the City of New York and told that the probationary period is 2 years. His disablity is a broken foot, while in the infantry, but cleared by the City of New York doctors. After 21 months, they terminate him without cause. The veteran has a perfect record of no absences, disciplinary actions, latenesses or complaints. Does this veteran have an legal recourse to win his job back?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Francisco, That is not a question I am able to answer. I suggest running this by a legal professional, preferably one that specializes in employment law or military law. Best wishes.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jeffrey, This sounds like something you would want to run by a lawyer who specializes in military law or employment law. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Zack, I honestly don’t know – I’m not an expert in employment law or employee rights. I would check with your HR department or your state employment bureau to learn more about your rights as they pertain to this matter. If this is for medical reasons, then you may have rights that fall under that provision.

      Another option is to consider contacting a lawyer that specializes in employment law or veterans rights. They should be able to provide more information as well.

      Finally, we don’t have enough information to assume your employer would be willfully breaking the law – it’s very possible that the employer may not know about this situation. So take that into account as you address this issue. It’s always better to educate and inform first, before responding with the big guns!

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  6. Juan says

    My job is trying to fire me because I went to the hospital to prevent myself from committing suicide but they say sorry you didn’t have enough days to take off for that where do I start to fight this

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Juan, I’m sorry to hear about this situation and I hope you get the help you need. I’m not sure about the legalities of this. I recommend contacting a lawyer that specializes in employment law. I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer, but I don’t have legal training. Again, I wish you the best of health, and I thank you for your service.

  7. Michael Miller says

    I am a protected Vet and could use some assistance . As a US Merchant Mariner it is required to have a passport to sail . Being proactive , I sent mine in for renewal way ahead of the expiration date only to find that the state dept is now holding it due to a child support arrearage from the year 2000 . People there tell me that my local state has a hold on it not them . call them only to get the run around all over again . Nothing in the past ten years has changed , the monthly amount to be paid is still being paid ( on time ) and with out the passport I will soon be in employed . Wonder if they gave that any thought ? No work , No pay . Support agency says that now the arrearages must be paid in full to get the passport . BUT , she said that they would consider letting it go IF I would send them a lump sum of $ 1,ooo and agree to increase my monthly payment . What kind of State Gov are they running here ? Talk about mistreating a tax paying Vet and playing ” lets make a deal with him ”
    Is it possible that your organization could look into this dog and pony show that PA is running . At least give me a direction to go in for answers . I have contacted both my state and congressional reps with out any result as of this date . Not really surprised , they are busy getting elected and have things to do .
    It looks like the system is going to put another Vet on the street again .
    Thanks
    Mike M.

  8. Eva says

    Can’t someone write the “protected Veteran” statute in layman’s terms?!

    When I applied for a job, this question was on there, so I said no because I don’t know all of these funky terms. One of the questions to determine if you are a protected veteran states:

    Did you serve on active duty during one or more of the periods of war outlined in 38 U.S.C. § 101?†

    – Well, what in 38 USC 101? How am I supposed to know?

    Another one is:

    Are you a veteran of the U.S. Military who is entitled to compensation (or who but for the receipt of military retired pay would be entitled to compensation)
    under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs?

    – How the heck do I know what the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs are? I have a 10% disability and get a small monthly sum, does that count?

    Another one is:

    Did you serve on active duty in any campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized under the laws administered by the Department of Defense?

    – How are we supposed to know what the “law administered by the Department of Defense”? and What the hell is a “campaign badge”?

    – I served during the Gulf War, Global War on Terror, OEF aid OIF. Does that count?

    Another one is:

    Did you serve on active duty in a U.S. military operation for which an Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded pursuant to Executive Order 12985 (61 FR
    1209) and were you awarded the Armed Forces Service Medal?

    – What is Executive Order 12985 (61 FR1209)? Am I supposed to look all this stuff up before I decide if I am a protected veteran?

    – And what is an Armed Forces Service Medal? I have a NAM, NCM,AAM, GWOT, overseas service, National defense, meritorious unit and a Reserve ribbon with hour glass and M-Do any of those count?

    Another question is were you discharged or released from active duty within the last three years? Why just the last 3 years? I am retired and served 20 years. 11 active, 9 reserve.

    I was so scared of this fancy lingo and USC 101 whatever the crap stuff and they made me sign my name and swear that what I answered was true that I replied that I am not? But am I? I answered no on the application for my current job and they had a luncheon for Veterans who work there and I wasn’t invited because I didn’t put down that I am a protected veteran. Like WTF? That to me is discrimination. All other veterans got invited to this luncheon, but I was singled out and not invited. Not that I want recognition, but if you are going to invite all Veterans to a luncheon, at least make sure you actually know who the Veterans are. There has to be thousands of other veterans out there who probably aren’t recognized as Veterans where they work because they answered no due to this fancy lingo. I know that employers have to report that they hire X amount of veterans, but I can tell you that the number is way under reported.

    Eva

  9. Adrian Petrus says

    So I am a protected veteran because of my Armed Forces Service Medal (2) my employer and the union agreed on a CBA that allows the employer to choose what insurance they accept and not to accept. As a federal contractor employer has to follow the Service Contract Agreement.
    They are using one paragraph from the emerita policy to force us to get their insurance. However the same paragraph refers to 29CFR4.175 that prohibits double coverage, also the employer has to offer minimum value no more than 9.5% of the Federal Poverty Line , if they don’t then they have to give employees a chance to decline. So the employer does not offer the value and not giving employees a chance to decline.
    I have VA insurance but mine it’s not a service connected disability and my employer will not accepted unless it’s a service connected disability because of course they don’t want to deal with ADA.
    My question is, because they only accept service connected disability from VA but not non-service are they discriminating under VEVRAA? Also since it prohibits double coverage and not offering minimum value?
    The union did the agreement behind our backs without talking to us.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Adrian, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, I am not qualified to answer this question. I don’t have a legal background and I’m not familiar with your union or employment contracts. This is something you should take up with your union representative or a lawyer who can dig into this more deeply.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  10. DR says

    I am a service-connected former Marine. I can attest that not only does EEOC not care about ADA Title I enforcement, nor does DOL/VETS…they definitely don’t enforce the anti-discrimination laws they are bound to uphold. In fact, they will likely attempt to discredit you. I had an EEOC Regional Director write me stating “my story strained credibility” contrary to a stack of evidence and even went as far as to question my military service. EEOC needs to be held accountable.

    EEOC allowed the opposing attorney to deny I disclosed, deny any pre-employment inquiry despite it being on paper, and even deny my service-connected disability.

    I disclosed a very specific “issue” at the pre-employment stage of accepting a first-year teaching gig and then had someone privy to that disclosure to go out of their way and put me in a situation that now require my use of hearing aids. The person was even stupid enough to email about my accommodation request and remind me to “be thankful I have a job.” EEOC ignored it all. EEOC never interviewed a single witness I provided in two years of their so-called investigation. The “investigator” with EEOC contacted me once on the phone and closed my case the following Monday. This was over a long Thanksgiving weekend. No lawyer will touch an ADA claim like this…neither would DOJ. It reeks. EEOC will gladly go through the motions of an appearance of “helping” veterans that have experienced workplace discrimination. Help yourself by skipping the gigantic waste of time that EEOC is. EEOC is being allowed to ignore credible service-connected disabilities that costs veteran jobs. Is that not discrimination on its own?

  11. Adrian Petrus says

    So now my employer is accepting VA insurance only if it’s service connected disability, in order to waive their insurance, if you have regular VA insurance they don’t because they are saying VA insurance sucks. VA insurance meets ACA requirements and it’s stated on VA.org under ACA that if a veteran it’s enroll in VA insurance they do not need to buy extra insurance.

    Now what the employer fails to understand is that every veteran no matter if it’s Service connected or not gets the same care. So why accepting one group but not the other? In my case I’m a protected Veteran for having Armed Forces Service Medal (2). I been working on the contract for 5 years under 3 different companies and never had this problem. This year we all have a problem.

  12. Joshua M Park says

    To whom it may concern,

    I am reaching out to request any help regarding my VA compensation claim that I need to appeal due to appointments I had missed that I never received communication from them to attend.

    Also, they continue to deny my claims for chronic kidney stones and several other conditions developed after my 2nd deployment and separated from the Marine Corps.

    Currently, I am receiving compensation at 50% due to PTSD. I have also been unable to hold gainful employment being fired from my last 2 jobs, for disability related issues.

    I filed a complaint with the EEOC again to my last employer (Starbucks). This “Veteran Friendly” company hired me as a initiative by the company to hire vets. Within the 1st month of my employment I was on a final written warning from disability connected issues and felt as though I was targeted by my supervisors to set me up for failure instead of offering help or assistance. Several months later I had several anxiety attacks and was terminated for attendance polices because the company issues no sick days or vacation for the 1store year of employment. After asking for a workplace accommodation I was given the run around and before I could complete it, I was let go. My claim was denied by the EEOC , giving me the right to place a civil lawsuit against them.

    However with no income, and a 2 year old son with disabilities as well. My family is at a loss as we cannot afford my son’s therapy bills depending solely on my wife’s income.

    I have attempted to find employment, applying for over 100 jobs in the past 3 months and I feel I am getting passed up because every application asks of and why I was terminated from a job.

    Without some sort of advocate to help with my claim, my family will stand to lose our home and be compensated by the VA for my very real disabilities they claim are not service related.

    Please help tell my story. Thank you.

  13. Jacob R says

    I am a service connected vet with a 50% rating. My issues have gotten more severe and my job just fired me before I could get through the physical therapy.

    I have documented how badly I have been treated in the past 3 years and even found discriminating training documents for the supervisors that I have a copy of. I am looking to sue the pants off of them to start my own business. Not sure where I should start or who to call. I live in Kansas.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Jacob, Thank you for contacting me. I would contact a lawyer who specializes in veterans law or workplace discrimination. Most lawyers will provide a free consultation, and some will work on a contingency basis, meaning they will only charge you if they win your case. We do not have any recommendations on which lawyers to consult with or hire. I wish you the best and thank you for your service.

  14. Al says

    I am retired with 0% disability. I have interviewed for numerous positions and have had 1 interview in past 5 months. I am 57 years old and I am thinking that prospective employers are shy about hiring an “experienced” individual. Pay no mind to the old guy he can’t do it anymore. Just last summer I took myself just as far as the guy with 30 years less age to the point of his collapse. I am as good once as I ever was. So I have to agree with most here that descrimination exists in every workplace.

  15. ulysess santos says

    i am a retired for 20 years of active duty service with 80 percent disability rating
    i have applied for so many jobs in the last 2 years since i retired, i only landed one interview and didn’t get the job i am still unemployed..i need help to get compensation or something. my income is just enough and most of the time i’m short..this is making me mad and crazy i got kids and child support plus my house rent to pay monthly.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Victoria, Thank you for contacting me. There isn’t enough information in your question to give you a full answer, so this is generalized. In general, employers aren’t allowed to deny an interview solely due to the fact a potential employee is a veteran. But employers also aren’t required to interview every single job applicant, regardless of their military service.

      There are dozens of factors that determine who receives an interview, and who isn’t called back. Education, job experience, expected wages, qualifications, etc.

      I won’t get into debating the qualifications of someone who did or did not receive an interview, because we can’t know the applicant pool and we can’t know the subjective factors involved in the process. So unless there is incontrovertible proof there was discrimination at play, then I don’t think there is a case. If there is proof or suspected proof, then you should contact a lawyer to determine if there is just cause for filing a grievance. I hope this helps.

  16. Robert says

    I had an eployer tell me to get my head right and my meds right . I am a 100% disabled veteran and I’m not taking any meds my disibality are for other things what are my options?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Robert, Thank you for contacting me. Specific legal questions are above my pay grade. I don’t know if there is any legal recourse from this comment. This is something that you would need to speak to a lawyer about.

      In the mean time, I would document this incident, including the person’s name, the date and time the incident occurred, and any other relevant information. Also be sure to document any future incidents if they occur. This way you have a full record of events that is more reliable than your memory.

      Another course of action may be speaking with the individual to let him/her know that type of comment is uncalled for and unwelcome. You do not have to speak with the other person about the incident if it causes you to be uncomfortable or fearful for your job or well-being. But this may be a way to avoid further issues and avoid any potential legal costs. Use your own judgment here. I hope this is helpful. Best of luck with this situation, and thank you for your service!

  17. Cdw says

    In the big picture if you are a disabled protected Veteran the law does not force an employer to hire you if you are not qualified for the position. The law and other anti discrimination laws only guarantee you rights if you can provide proof you are being discriminated against due to your disability or status.

    Do not confuse Veterans Protected Status with Veterans Preference hiring practices either as you can find when applying for government or government contractor jobs. Again even with Veterans Preference hiring practices if you are applying for a position you are not qualified for you won’t get the job over more qualified applicants just because you are a veteran.

  18. Bryan Zidek says

    The Dept. of Labor is not interested in protecting the rights of Veterans. I filed a complaint for discrimination under the Atomic Energy Act and the Dept of Labor investigator who made the final decision only talked to my employer and not to me. I filed a complaint because my service skills, that I had been performing on the job for almost thirty years, did not meet the minimum qualifications for a promotion to a position with the same title, that paid a lot more money. Don’t waste your time. Veterans organizations should be funded to fight employers for veterans rights, not DOL. This occurred even after the President came to my employer to discuss the hiring and promoting of veterans, and it was basically ignored.

    • Q. A. says

      Bryan, I completely agree with you. I don’t know how many jobs I’ve applied to where I disclosed my service-connected disability status. I have only had one job interview (by a company that held a DOD contract) in over 20 years of applying for jobs that revealed my disability status. Over this two decade period, I have used service-connected disabled veteran status, regular veteran status and omitted veteran status when applying for jobs. I have received almost no job interviews when using the service-connected status, and a moderately fair amount of interviews with just the veteran status or no status at all. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many applications that give you the option of omitting your veteran status. Certainly, not all of these companies are culpable of any crime, and to be fair, I stopped using my service-connected status when applying for jobs some time ago, and I am currently gainfully employed.

      So to say that anti-discrimination laws are there to protect us is a bunch of baloney. Even this article implies that there’s no real way to prove that an employer is discriminating against you without physical or traceable evidence (i.e., email). And since there are no random screenings or investigations to weed out guilty employers, the law is not much more than an ideal. I wouldn’t even qualify it as a potential threat, because only a complete idiot would disclose discriminating acts in writing to a prospective employee.

      I work in the white-collar world now and I am pretty sure that I’d still be a construction worker or a freelancer had I kept using my service-connected veteran status.

      I want to be completely clear that I am a proud veteran. However, my advice to service-connected veterans, is to leave that status off of your resume or job application. It will only hurt you unless you are applying for a job that is specifically looking to hire disabled veterans. It took me nearly ten years to figure this out, because of pride and naivety.

      Further proof that employers do not care to hire veterans are the available statistics. This says to me that we (veterans) should encourage young people NOT to join the military. Perhaps this effect will force the government to take notice and action, because it’s a fact that angry, vocal veterans is not having an effect. Sure, we all have great stories of our time in the service and most of us have learned a lot about attention to detail, hard work, striving for excellence and perseverance through adversity. But these things mean little or next to nothing if you can’t get a good paying job.

      • Dennis Johnson says

        I was drafted in the U.S. Army in the 1960s and was in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. To serve your country for what ever your length you served or skills you learned does not mean a thing in the civilian world. I recommend in the future if a draft is instituted NOT to accept induction. It didn’t matter during Viet Nam and it won’t matter later either. It’s just a fact of life.

      • daman says

        I agree, proud honorably, but if I could go back in time I’d never would have now that I was injured and the way I was treated when I was retired. Not to mention treatment afterwards, I’ve talked a few people out of serving and I will do the same to my kids. My father tried to save me, but I was to naive…

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