Governor Gregoire just signed into law the Veterans Preference in Employment Act. Under the new law, private employers are now permitted to establish a preference for veterans. The preference applies to:
. . . honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines who are veterans of any war of the United States, or of any military campaign for which a campaign ribbon has been awarded, and their widows or widowers, may be preferred for employment. Spouses of honorably discharged veterans who have a service connected permanent and total disability . . . .
The law does not require employers to establish a preference, but simply permits it without the preference being a violation of any local or state equal employment opportunity law.
Any employer who is going to establish a preference for veterans should consider revising their equal employment policy if it provides, as many do, that the employer does not discriminate on the basis of veteran status. Depending on how a particular policy is worded, one simple way around this is to add the word “unlawfully” to the sentence so that instead of saying “do not discriminate” because of . . . veterans status,” the sentence says “do not unlawfully discriminate . . . .
The new law, which can be found here, goes into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns.