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September 21, 2008    DOL Home > elaws Advisors > Veterans' Preference Advisor
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Since the time of the Civil War, veterans of the Armed Forces [as defined in 38 USC 101(10)] have been given some degree of preference in appointments to Federal jobs. Recognizing that sacrifices are made by those serving in the Armed Forces, Congress enacted laws to prevent veterans seeking Federal employment from being penalized because of the time spent in the military service.

By law (Title 5 USC, Section 2108), veterans who are disabled or who serve on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over non-veterans both in Federal hiring practices and in retention during reductions in force (RIF).

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-163) extends Veterans’ Preference to those individuals who served on active duty for a period of more than 180 consecutive days any part of which occurred during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on a future date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law as the last date of Operation Iraqi Freedom; and, who were discharged or released from active duty in the armed forces under honorable conditions.

Preference does not have as its goal the placement of a veteran in every vacant Federal job; this would be incompatible with the merit principle of public employment. Nor does it apply to promotions or other in-service actions. However, preference does provide a uniform method by which special consideration is given to qualified veterans seeking Federal employment.

Preference applies in hiring from civil service examinations, for most excepted service jobs, and when agencies make temporary appointments or use direct hire and delegated examining authorities from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). OPM's Vet Guide explains the special rights and privileges that veterans enjoy in Federal civil service employment and the VetsInfo Guide explains how veteran's preference and the special appointing authorities for veterans operate within the system.

The Department of Labor's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP) and Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) developed an "expert system" to help veterans receive the preferences to which they are entitled. This system is designed to help veterans determine the type of preference to which they are entitled, the benefits associated with the preference and the steps necessary to file a complaint due to the failure of a Federal agency to provide those benefits.


(Public Law 105-339)

1.Preference Eligibles who allege that an agency has violated such individual's rights under any statute or regulation relating to veterans' preference may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor, The Veterans Employment and Training Service Agency (VETS).

2. Complaints must be filed within 60 days after the date of the alleged violation.

3. Not earlier than 61 days after filing a complaint with VETS, complainants may appeal their case to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

4. If the MSPB has not issued a decision within 120 days, claimants may seek judicial redress in the US District Courts. Details of these procedures are identified in section 3 of the VEOA, PL 105-339.

5. Veterans' preference is extended to now apply to employee positions in the Government Accounting Office, Office of the President, certain legislative and judicial positions, and in Reduction In Force (RIF) situations, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA).

6. Failure to comply with veterans' preference requirements will be treated as a Prohibited Personnel Practive (PPP) for certain purposes. To knowingly take, recommend, or approve any personnel action if the failure to take such action would violate veterans preference requirements or to fail to take, recommend or approve any personnel action if the failure to take such action would violate veterans' preference requirements is a PPP.




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