Sandra Day O'Connor Memorial


Hiring Preferences for Veterans and Families of Service Members

This document provides an overview of hiring preferences that benefit veterans and some military family members. It discusses employment with the federal government, Arizona State and local governments, and with federal contractors and subcontractors.

Are veterans given preference when applying for a federal job?

By Federal law (Title 5 USC, § 2108) veterans may receive a preference when applying for a federal job. Under the law,

“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.”

It is not the goal of the statute to fill all government jobs with veterans. There is no guarantee a veteran will be hired for the job. The idea is to create a uniform method for giving veterans an advantage in the hiring process. When a person applies for a government job, the agency assigns the applicant a numerical score based on their qualifications and/or the score achieved on the civil service exam. The federal government then adds additional points to this base score as a form of hiring preference to veterans applying for certain jobs. Hiring decisions are then based on this new score. Some family members of disabled or deceased veterans may also receive extra points.

What things are considered for a veteran to be eligible?

Before any consideration of eligibility for hiring preference, the veteran must meet these requirements; (1) Must have an honorable discharge; (2) Military retirees with ranks of Major, Lieutenant Commander or above do not qualify unless they have a service-related disability; (3) National Guard or Reserve active duty for training purposes does not qualify; (4) The veteran must claim the preference on their federal job application or resume.

To be eligible for 5 extra points, the veteran must have served:

  • During a time of war; or
  • During the period April 28,1952, through July 1, 1955;1 or
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training between February 1, 1955 and October 15, 1976; or
  • During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990 through January 2, 1992; or
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, other than training, any part of which occurred after September 11, 2001, and ending on a future date prescribed by Presidential proclamation; or
  • In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal or expedition badge has been authorized. Examples include El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti.

To qualify for a 10-point preference, the following criteria must be met:

  • A veteran who (1) has a service-connected disability, or (2) is receiving disability or retirement benefits form military service or the Veterans Affairs; or
  • A veteran who received a purple heart; or
  • Some widows and widowers of deceased military spouses, or
  • A spouse of a disabled veteran who is unable to work because of a service-connected disability, or
  • A mother of a veteran who died in service or who is permanently and totally disabled.

For more detailed information on eligibility for hiring preferences, go to the website for the Federal Office of Personnel Management.

Are federal contractors and subcontractors required to give preference to veterans when hiring?

The federal government requires its contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative steps to hire and promote qualified veterans. This requirement specifically targets the following groups:

  • Disabled veterans;
  • Recipients of the Armed Forces Service Medal; and
  • Veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition with a campaign badge.

The law also prevents certain contractors and subcontractors from discriminating against an applicant or employee because they qualify as a protected veteran.

A covered veteran may file a complaint with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance if they believe a federal contractor has violated a hiring preference requirement.

Are military family members given hiring preferences?

Military spouses and other family members may also receive hiring preferences.

In the federal government, the Military Spouse Preference Program creates hiring preferences for spouses who relocate with an active duty servicemember. This program applies to civil positions in the Department of Defense.

Does Arizona have hiring preferences for veterans who apply for state government jobs?

Like many other states, Arizona gives veterans a hiring preference for government jobs. A.R.S. § 38-492 sets out our state’s policy on the issue in some detail. To qualify for a 5-point preference, the veteran must have an honorable discharge following more than 6 months of active duty service and must get a passing grade (without the preference) on the written examination.

A disabled veteran who earns a passing score on the examination will receive the 5-point preference plus an additional 5 points. There are also hiring preferences for the spouses of permanently and totally disabled veterans. A surviving spouse may be entitled to a preference under the following conditions:

  1. The deceased spouse died of a service-connected disability.
  2. The military spouse is on active duty and, at the time of the employment application, has been listed as missing in action, captured in the line of duty, or forcibly detained by a foreign government.
  3. The veteran spouse has a total and permanent service-connected disability.

Does a hiring preference for veterans violate Title VII?

Hiring preferences for veterans have created controversy over the years. The policy has spawned discrimination lawsuits arguing that a preference for veterans unfairly discriminates against women because the majority of veterans in the workforce are male. However, the courts have continued to uphold the privilege based on the argument that the statutory basis for rewarding veterans for their service to the country is necessary even though it disadvantages women.

This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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