Florida Veteran’s Preference:  Do you know what it is?

Florida Veteran’s Preference: Do you know what it is?

August 20, 2015

Many are familiar with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) which generally provides reemployment rights to military personnel upon return from active duty service.  Employers have had to be particularly observant of their obligations under USERRA in recent years given the rotation in and out of active service of members of the Reserves and National Guard in the Middle East. However, here in Florida (as well as other states), public sector employers must also be familiar with the hiring preference enjoyed by military veterans under certain circumstances.

Pursuant to Florida Statutes, Section 295.07, the state and its political subdivisions are required, with few exceptions, to give preference in not only initial hire, but also employee retention, to: 1) certain disabled veterans, 2) the spouses of certain totally disabled veterans, 3) wartime veterans, 4) unremarried widows and widowers of veterans who have died due to a service-related disability, 5) parents, legal guardians and unremarried widows and widowers of service members killed under combat-related conditions, 6) honorably discharged active military personnel, and  7) current members of the Reserves and National Guard.  The parameters of the preference are set forth under Sections 295.08 and 295.085.

Former military personnel seeking private sector jobs are not without support.  Though private sector employers are not compelled by Florida law to give hiring preference to veterans, USERRA prohibits employment discrimination against individuals on the basis of past, current or intended military service.  In addition, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity maintains veterans employment programs designed to assist veterans in obtaining employment opportunities and outreach to encourage the hiring of veterans, particularly disabled veterans.