New Law Gives Veterans Preference in Private Hiring


August 4, 2015
By Rhonda Gillespie

Illinois veterans could get a boost with their job search now that private sector employers can legally give them preference when hiring.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Veterans Preference in Private Employment Act into law this week. It gives private companies the opportunity to image of american flagfollow suit with the public sector and establish a preference for hiring military veterans. They may do that, thanks to the legislation sponsored by state Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, as long as the rule is posted publicly in the workplace and applies “uniformly” in hiring and promoting employees.

Some of DeKalb County’s 9,000 veterans could benefit from the law, said DeKalb County Veterans Affairs Commission Superintendent Tammy Anderson. The commission offers services and forms of financial aid to county veterans and their families.

Although the commission does not offer employment assistance directly, Anderson said representatives from the Illinois Department of Employment Security hosts hiring events and employment workshops in the county, many of them giving preference to veterans. She said IDES tries to get companies to to select service men and women.

“The government is always trying to find different ways to promote hiring veterans, and they’ve always tried to help companies go with the veterans,” said Anderson. She said with the new law allowing private companies the new hiring freedom, the state is “covering all the bases.”

In signing the bill Tuesday, Rauner said veterans often face more obstacles in trying to find a job. The new law complements those already in place that greenlight preferential hiring for veterans public jobs and protect current and former enlistees in the five military branches from discrimination based on their military status.

Pritchard said he sponsored the legislation, House Bill 3122, after hearing about a U.S. Department of Defense veterans’ aid organization raising the issue.

“We need to be concerned about veterans getting jobs once they’re released from the service,” Pritchard said. “They have the skills, the knowledge, the leadership that makes them good employees. But a number of companies were saying ‘we couldn’t prefer veterans because that might be counted as discrimination.’ They wanted to do it legally,”

The lawmaker pointed out that unemployment remains an issue for a number of Illinoisans, including veterans.

IDES reports the state’s overall unemployment rate was 5.9 percent as of June, the last month for which numbers are available.

In DeKalb County, the rate was 5 percent – down from 6.4 the same time in 2014.

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