Legislation allows Michigan employers to adopt hiring preference
LANSING — Today, the Michigan House of Representatives Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs took testimony and unanimously voted in support of House Bill 5418, legislation introduced by state Representative David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights). If the bill becomes law, private employers would have the ability to adopt a veterans’ preference employment policy when hiring new employees, an ability they do not currently have. The bill now goes before the House of Representatives for its consideration.
“This issue was first brought to my attention while traveling across the state as co-chairman of the Veterans’ Services Task Force. There are countless employers in Michigan who are ready and willing to offer a veterans hiring preference in order to help our servicemen and women upon their return home. Unfortunately, they are prohibited from doing so without formal state action,” said Knezek. “This legislation is a monumental step forward in addressing the issue of veteran unemployment in Michigan.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids preferential hiring policies; however, as it relates to offering a veterans hiring preference, Section 712 of the act states, “Nothing in this title shall be construed to repeal or modify any Federal, State, territorial, or local law creating special rights or preference for veterans.” In essence, Title VII will not pre-empt formal state action allowing for the creation of such preference policies for veterans. Michigan currently has no such law on the books authorizing such a practice for private employers.
“I remember how long I went without a job after coming home from Iraq. It wasn’t until a friend called and offered me a job driving the Zamboni at Redford Ice Arena that I finally was able to gain employment – after six months of dead ends,” said Knezek. “Veteran employment has been, and will continue to be, one of my top priorities, especially considering that in 2013, the average unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans in Michigan was 13.5 percent — almost 5 percent higher than the national average. We can and must do better.”
“Veterans do not want a handout — we want a hand up,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps First Sgt. Troy Schielein, division director of Wayne County Veterans Services. “I believe this piece of legislation is paramount to driving down veteran unemployment and assisting our veterans and their families.”
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N690 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
Phone: (517) 373-0849
Fax: (517) 373-5967
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State Representative David Knezek
11th House District