Finding a job can be hard, particularly in this economy. Finding a job after spending years in the military can be even harder, especially if your training is in an area that does not transfer to civilian life easily or obviously. Laws can prohibit discrimination against returning veterans, but sometimes additional programs and assistance is needed for those making the dramatic transition back to civilian life and employment.
Veteran Employment Assistance Program
The Center for Advanced Manufacturing Puget Sound (CAMPS) is a Kent Valley organization helping veterans realize their employment potential. The organization holds a three-day workshop that shows veterans how their training and skills translate and transfer into civilian employment, particularly in manufacturing. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal past participants in the program have regained confidence in their skills and have had the opportunity to interact and apply for employment with local manufacturing companies.
It is not just the manufacturing industry that is trying to help returning veterans. Major retail employers like Wal-Mart and Starbucks have committed to the effort. Starbucks has announced it will hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses. Over the next five years, the company has committed to developing a program that will match the skills veterans gained during their service with potential positions in the company. Starbucks is going a step further than CAMPS in expanding the program to military spouses as well. The announcement also included a pledge to contribute a portion of all transactions at designated Starbucks locations to other veteran assistance programs.
Legal Protections for Veterans
As we have discussed in a previous post, there are state and federal protections for returning service members. Federal laws that would make military service a protected class, like race and religion, and provide stronger protection against discrimination based on current military or veteran status are still working their way through Congress. But the current federal protections under USERRA prohibit discrimination based on past, present or future military service. It gives veterans the ability to return to the jobs they had prior to deployment at a level that they would have attained had they not been deployed. There is, however, a five year limit to that reemployment provision, since employers cannot be expected to hold a position open for an indefinite period of time. The federal law also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for returning veterans with disabilities.
Military veterans in Washington are considered a protected class under the State’s law against discrimination. Regardless of whether the protections are at a federal or state level, dishonorable discharge or any other disqualifying discharge does remove legal protections against employment discrimination based on military veteran status. However, even those with disqualifying military discharges are still protected from all of the other types of employment discrimination under non-discrimination laws.
Discrimination can occur for any number of reasons, even because a person was in the military. If you feel you have been discriminated against, an employment attorney may be able to help.