Memorial weekend is here, signaling the official start of summer. We celebrate all those who have served in the military and made sacrifices for our country. I bought my “Buddy Poppy” on the way out of the grocery store this week, and am proudly wearing it attached to the outside of my purse. Public employers should take note of several recent legislative changes affecting Veterans in the workplace.

Minnesota’s point-preference requirement favoring Veteran’s in the hiring process was expanded by the Legislature this session. Previously public employers were required to award five points to the application of a nondisabled Veteran, and ten points to the application of a disabled Veteran. The points have been increased effective April 19, 2012. Nondisabled Veterans are now to be awarded ten points, and disabled Veteran’s are to be awarded fifteen points.

The Legislature also amended Minn. Stat. 197.46 concerning the discharge or demotion of a Veteran. Public employers must provide sixty days notice to a Veteran of their right to request a hearing before a civil service board, or in the event there is no civil service board, a hearing before a three judge ad-hoc panel. The three judge panel is comprised of one member selected by the public employer, one by the employee, and one mutually selected by the parties.

Effective August 1, 2012, the Veteran must also be advised to select their representative for the three judge ad hoc panel during the sixty (60) days period of appeal, or forfeit their right to a “hearing and all other legal remedies available for reinstatement of the Veteran’s employment.” Public employers should revise their discharge and demotion notices to Veteran’s accordingly. The new change will definitely help to avoid any delays in scheduling a hearing in the event of a Veteran’s appeal.

One other minor change to the law clarifies that both the public employer and the Veteran have fifteen days to appeal a Veteran’s decision to the district court. This clarification was a result of a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision concerning the question of timelines for appeals of a city.

Enjoy a picnic or barbecue this long weekend. Just remember we are celebrating our military, in memory of their service and sacrifice.