California Assembly Bill 353 was recently passed by a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 74-0, moving the bill to the state Senate. California AB 353, the Voluntary Veterans’ Preference Employment Policy Act, would allow California employers preference in hiring for veterans. The legislation was introduced by Assemblyman Randy Voepel, R-Santee.

What is California AB 353?

Currently, California has an outdated law where employers are only allowed to set a hiring preference policy for veterans who served during the Vietnam War. California AB 353 would help establish a voluntary preference for hiring veterans regardless of when they served.

While all 50 states have veterans preference policies when hiring for public positions, private positions are another story. Only some states currently have these policies in place, and California isn’t one of them.

Assemblyman Voepel has said how important it is that California “live up to its claimed reputation as a leader for the nation and update our veterans preference law,” and that AB 353 would be a “win” for veterans, employers, and California.

AB 353 Would Not Violate the FEHA

If AB 353 is signed into law, the preference to hire veterans is completely voluntary, and would not violate the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or any other equal opportunity employment laws and rules. However, employers will need to ensure that the policy isn’t used for discrimination on the basis of any protected class.

AB 353 Means Mental Support for More Veterans

Veterans face many challenges when reentering civilian life. One of the biggest challenges is the ability to find a steady job. There are nearly 2 million veterans living in California alone – the largest veteran population of any state. And the unemployment rate for Vietnam War veterans is lower than post-September 11 veterans. The unemployment rate for female veterans in California is even higher. Female veterans are unemployed at nearly 7 percent, compared to the 5.4 percent for the rest of California’s veteran population.

If California could provide the option for private employers to establish hiring preference policies for veterans, these skilled veterans would have more and better employment opportunities and face fewer challenges when reentering the workforce.

California AB 353 Voluntary Veterans’ Preference Employment Policy Act: Additional Information

If you feel that your California employer is violating your rights as a veteran employee, our expert Los Angeles employment attorneys are here to help you stand up against unlawful workplace discrimination and harassment. Contact us today for a free consultation.