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Employment Rights for Veterans and Service Members

Unemployment

Employment information and resources for Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a Welcome Kit so Veterans are aware of their benefits including employment programs. The VA also oversees a program called Reach which provides resources for your specific needs.

Are veterans entitled to hiring preferences?

Yes, Veterans are entitled to hiring preferences. The Texas Workforce Commission maintains a list of private companies who have jobs with a Veterans preference.

According to Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA), Veterans are also eligible for jobs which are usually only open to current or former federal employees. That means if you’re a veteran, you can apply to both public jobs and “status” jobs.

Preference also applies to government contracting companies. The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) requires companies who contract with the federal government to give preference to "protected veterans." You are considered a protected veteran so long as you were on Active Duty during war time; actual deployment to a war zone is not required.

I am about to leave military service and am worried about being unemployed while transitioning.

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits through Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX). UCX is an unemployment program provided by each state. Texas Workforce Commission manages the Texas specific program.

Does my previous job have to hold my job open while I'm on military leave?

Yes. Texas law extends some federal employment protections for servicemembers and veterans available under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and adds some additional legal protections:

  • In Texas, USERRA rights extend to all public and private sector employees who are veterans or currently in the armed services, of any rank, including reservists and members of the Texas State Guard. Employment protections apply regardless of whether the service is voluntary or involuntary, in peacetime, or in wartime.
  • An employer may not discriminate against an employee because of military service.
  • A veteran or servicemember’s job can be held open for up to five years of cumulative military service. Required trainings or national emergencies don’t count against the five-year cumulative.
  • The employee is entitled to be rehired to the position they would have had if they had not left for military duty. In some situations this means a comparable position, but seniority, pay, and status remain the same.
  • The employee can’t be discharged or subject to adverse employment action for one year after the date of reinstatement, except for cause.
  • If military duty is more than 30 days, the employee can opt to continue employer-based health insurance for up to 24 months, but might have to pay part or all of the premium. If not on the employer’s insurance, the employee must be added upon return. If service is less than 31 days, the health plan stays in place as if the employee hadn’t left.
  • Pension plans and seniority will continue to accrue during the employee’s absence on military duty. Employer funded retirement plans must continue pension and retirement contributions during the employee’s leave of absence. Texas state employees can count their active duty military time towards state retirement. 

How long do I have to report to my old job?

Yes, the Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with both physical and mental disabilities from discrimination. You do not have to disclose your disability at any point, be it while employed or during the application process. However, if you require accommodations to work effectively, you will have to request that yourself. You can request accommodations at any point during the application process or even after you've already started working.

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