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February 29, 2008
New Protected Category: Military Status

A new law, effective March 24, 2008, brings in a variety of new rights and protections for those who served in the military. The new provisions apply to those on active duty, active duty for training, and full-time National Guard duty. Some features of the sweeping bill affect employment.

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Ban on workplace discrimination. The law bars employers from discharging without just cause, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against employees and applicants because of military status. It also requires employers in public works contracts, when hiring employees or choosing subcontractors, to agree to avoid discrimination based on military status. And the state, in appropriating funding for capital projects, must ensure that the project for which the money is appropriated provides for an affirmative action program for the employment of people who are disadvantaged because of their military status.

Ban on healthcare discrimination. The enactment bars health insurers, healthcare facilities, and health providers from discriminating, based on military status, in enrollment, disenrollment, or the quality of healthcare services.

Military preference in civil service exams. The new law also extends the 20 percent credit available to certain military persons on civil service examinations to any member of the National Guard or a reserve component of the United States armed forces who has completed more than 180 days of active duty.

Licensing provisions. Three features of the law affect occupational and professional licenses. One requires public licensing agencies to renew expired licenses held by members of the National Guard or the reserves that expired because of the member's service. The second allows a licensee who has been called to active duty to have an extension of time in which to fulfill continuing education requirements. The third requires licensing agencies to consider relevant military experience in determining whether a licensee has fulfilled continuing education requirements.

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