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Rodne bill allowing employment preference for veterans made law

A bill that would permit Washington employers to give veterans preference in employment decisions was signed into law Thursday, April 21, by Gov. Christine Gregoire.

House Bill 1432, sponsored by Rep. Jay Rodne, will allow private employers to establish preferences in employment for veterans, widows or widowers of veterans, and spouses of certain veterans.

“As our veterans return from their duties overseas, it’s important for them to be reintegrated back into our communities," said Rodne, himself a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps Reserve.

Employment can be a critical vehicle for the transition from military to civilian life, Rodne said.

“House Bill 1432 simply permits employers to give veterans preference in employment decisions, but it’s not a requirement. This will provide veterans with more employment opportunities and is an appropriate way to honor their service and sacrifices," he added.

As a result of the legislation, Washington will be the first state in the nation to enact this kind of employment preference for veterans.

“As an organization with many HR professionals, we are dedicated to simplifying the hiring process in corporate America for veterans so that we can capitalize upon the range of talents and professional values that service members bring,” said Marjorie James, President of Hire America’s Heroes and a prime supporter of the initiative. “This legislation makes it easier for the private sector to develop voluntary employment preference programs for those that have served our nation in time of need.”

House Bill 1432 passed with a vote of 94-4 in the House and a vote of 49-0 in the Senate. The companion measure in the Senate, Senate Bill 5841, was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Baxter, R-Spokane Valley.

“This was truly a group effort. I’m especially thankful for the help of David Black and Hire America’s Heroes – a group dedicated to expanding employment options in the private sector for our service men and women,” said Rodne. “We want our veterans to know they are cared for and appreciated – during and after their service to our country.”

Under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), it is an unfair practice to discriminate in employment based on age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained guide dog or service animal by a person with a disability. The preferences established under House Bill 1432 are not considered violations of the WLAD or any state or local equal employment opportunity law.

Rodne completed a two-year tour as the commanding officer of a 1,200-Marine reserve battalion headquartered at Fort Lewis. Rodne and his unit were activated and served overseas in Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

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