Q. We pride ourselves on supporting veterans who have served in the armed forces. We know we should generally not use an applicant’s class (such as gender, race, etc.) when making hiring decisions. But we have heard that the law does allow us to give a hiring preference to veterans. Is that true?
A. Minnesota has enacted a law that allows private employers to offer favorable hiring treatment to veterans. The statute (Minn. Stat. 197.4551) permits a preference in hiring and promotion to veterans, spouses of disabled veterans who have service-connected permanent and total disabilities and the spouses of deceased veterans.
Nonetheless, employers should not rely solely on this state statute when making a hiring decision.
The statute does not, and cannot, be used to defend a claim of discrimination based on a federal statute (such as Title VII). Therefore, before making any hiring decision, carefully analyze all the surrounding circumstances to ensure that unlawful discrimination is not a factor.