Ocean City Weighing Veteran Hiring Policy

OCEAN CITY – A formal veteran preference hiring policy will return to the Mayor and City Council for a vote to be added to the town’s Policy Procedure Manual.
Human Resources Director Wayne Evans explained to the Mayor and City Council the federal government administers a formal program to give preferential treatment to the selection and promotion of veterans and their spouses, widows or mothers.
States may also have Veterans’ preference employment statutes, but Maryland has not implemented a formal program.
According to Evans, the federal government administers a points-based employment selection program requiring the use of validated civil service examinations for all covered job classifications. The federal program adds five points to test scores for Veteran status and 10 points for Disabled Veteran status.
Evans furthered, as there is no statutory requirement at the sub-political level, any preference conferred upon veterans on the town’s initiative would be voluntary.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states in policy document N-915.056: “veterans’ preference statutes operate overwhelmingly to the advantage of men” and the Commission further states “where an employment preference…is not mandated by statute…preference is not shielded from scrutiny under Title VII … and “presumes the existence of adverse impact.”
“Basically what they’re saying is if you are going to have a Veteran’s preference program you need to demonstrate that it’s not having an adverse impact on employment of anyone in your work place,” Evans said.”
The benefits of implementing veteran preference employment statute is it recognizes the sacrifices of citizens who have served their country, creates employment opportunity for a population segment who are first-time entrants to the job market or reentering the job market, and expands the town’s applicant pool.
The cons are it may require additional infrastructure to successfully administer an examination or points-based selection system, forming validated examinations and centralized administration, plus additional costs, triggers adverse impact analysis, and may disadvantage better qualified applicants.
Currently, the Ocean City Police Department and CPD Communications, or dispatch departments, administer validated selection examinations. The town recognizes up to three years of military service time for pension service credit, provides full-time employees 80 hours of paid leave for military training each calendar year, and pays the difference between military pay and town wages for employees called to active duty.
A policy alternative the Mayor and City Council considered with an examination-based preference is to expand the town’s outreach to veterans by advertising open positions on veteran’s job boards, which achieves “notice of opportunity” objective and increased representation of veterans in the applicant pool. Also, the policy would include extending interviews to qualified veteran applicants for each position and track and evaluate veteran application and placement results.
“It would be something that would be proactive towards the employment of veterans that would be compliant with employment laws, and have a moderate to low cost associated with it,” Evans said.
Councilman Dennis Dare, who asked for staff to look into a veteran preference policy last spring, explained the unemployment rate of veterans returning from overseas is 3 percent high than the general population, and for veterans under the age of 25 it’s even higher.
“I am not interested in the points program that the federal government has. Many states do have the same program but I am not proposing we do that,” Dare said. “Simply when applicants are equal instead of a coin toss, if you will, have the veteran be given the preference so that we are not discriminating.”
Dare made a motion to have staff write a formal veteran preference policy to have the town hire eligible veterans and spouses of disabled veterans when their qualifications are substantially equal then nonveterans in the most qualified applicant pool, and to have the policy return to council for review. The council voted unanimously to approve the motion.