New legislation could make hiring vets less cumbersome
Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, in April. (Photo by Skip Gray, 360 North)When business owners seek to advertise that they want to hire military veterans, they face an obstacle. People who aren’t veterans can sue them for discrimination.Listen nowState Representative Chris Tuck wants to change that. Tuck has introduced House Bill 2, which would allow private employers to openly use a veteran hire preference if they choose to.“Employers know that when military people are discharged, they come with some great skills and abilities through their training,” Tuck said.The federal Civil Rights Act provides that states can allow public and private employers to legally prefer to hire veterans. While all 50 states allow the veterans’ preference for public employers, Alaska is one of 13 states that hasn’t allowed it for private employers.Tuck said business owners’ concerns are valid.“Employers have been brought to trial because they had a hiring preference for a veteran, other than another civilian,” Tuck said.Russ Ball owns ACB solutions, an Anchorage small business that provides computer repair and other computer services statewide. He says he’s worried about a discrimination suit from an unsuccessful applicant.Ball supports Tuck’s bill.“We find the military, or the veterans, to be good workers, to be skilled workers,” Ball said. “But we also see it as a way of saying thank you for their service.”The House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee discussed the bill Tuesday. Tuck said he would bring the legislation up again in a future meeting.Officials with the U.S. Defense Department and the state Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs support the bill. One in every ten Alaskans is a veteran, the highest per capita share of any state’s population.