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Scaling back federal job preferences for vets

There can be a number of different points at which discrimination can come into play in the process of federal employment. As we noted in a previous post, the standard of fairness and openness that the Merit Systems Protection Board is meant to strive for isn't always achieved. Managers may sometimes limit the time a position is posted, or reopen a listing if a preferred candidate suddenly appears.

Once in a job, a person might suffer wrongful termination, miss out on a promotion for which they should be eligible or suffer sexual harassment. All these are forms of discrimination that should not happen, and whether you live in Texas or some other state, you need to know you have rights to protect yourself from any illegal treatment.

Administratively, officials might set policies that give preference to certain groups. This is something the Obama presidency has done in recent years. With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ostensibly over, the administration has acted to make sure that returning military veterans get a leg up on available government jobs. Now, however, Congress is considering legislation that would limit the privileges.

The way things are currently, veterans have a general blanket preference in being considered when applying for federal jobs. It can stick with them, even if they move from agency to agency. The new provision contained in the annual defense policy bill would limit preference for veterans and close relatives to just the first time it's used.

Pentagon officials reportedly pushed for the change saying that the deference being shown to veterans is eliminating too many qualified non-veterans from the running for jobs. The best people for positions aren't always hired. Critics disagree, saying such claims reflect a misunderstanding of how preferences are intended to work.

Whether the provision becomes law is still to be determined. It is now in the hands of a House-Senate conference committee.

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