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Veterans discharged for minor offenses face hiring difficulties

Many New Yorkers like to believe that military veterans are always treated fairly in the workplace. However, veterans who were discharged for minor offenses often have difficulty getting hired. In fact, the problem is so bad that the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities just warned employers not to discriminate against veterans who were discharged for certain reasons.

The military conducts three types of discharges. The first type is an honorable discharge, which offers veterans full benefits. The second type is a dishonorable discharge, which is for serious offenses and involves a court-martial. The third type is a less-than-honorable discharge, which involves relatively minor offenses like fighting, tardiness, drug use or even suicide attempts. According to veterans advocates, many of those discharged for these offenses have suffered a brain injury or been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. They are also disproportionately black, Latino, gay or disabled.

Experts say that many employers don't understand the differences between military discharges and assume the worst of any veteran who receives a less-than-honorable discharge. However, some advocates say the answer to the problem isn't legislation. For example, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. says a better solution is for the military to stop discharging veterans who have been injured.

Veterans who are facing this type of discrimination might want to meet with an employment law attorney to see what recourse might be available. Because of the over-representation of blacks, Latinos and gays in the less-than-honorable discharge pool, it could be possible to bring a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Source: Military, "Discharged and Jobless: Veterans Seek Change in Hiring Rules," May 25, 2018

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