Fayetteville lawmaker seeks discrimination protection for service members, vets
Posted April 28, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Saying military veterans are being unfairly turned away from too many jobs, state Rep. Billy Richardson, D-Cumberland, said Thursday he plans to file a bill next week that would extend discrimination protections to veterans as well as active-duty members of the military.
"Our veterans are being discriminated against in staggering numbers," Richardson said during a brief news conference.
Many employers wrongly believe anyone who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and could pose a risk in the workplace, he said.
"Rather than assuming that, what we need to do is to have our employers understand that the best employees in the world and the best-trained employees in the world are our veterans, and they certainly shouldn't be discriminated against for serving our country," he said.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the jobless rates among veterans who have served in the military since 2001 was 5.8 percent in 2015, down from 7.2 percent the previous year.
In North Carolina, the unemployment rate for veterans is 3.1 percent, far below the statewide average.
Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, tried to insert protections for veterans into House Bill 2 when it was debated on the House floor last month, but Republican lawmakers succeeded in tabling his motion.
In addition to veterans, House Bill 2 doesn't extend discrimination protections to gay and transgender people, which has fueled a statewide and nationwide debate in recent weeks over LGBT rights.
Richardson voted for House Bill 2, but he has since said that was a mistake that he is trying to correct. His proposed bill also would repeal a provision of the law that prevents people from suing in state court over job discrimination.
Martin and three other House members, Reps. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, Graig Meyer, D-Orange, and Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover, filed a bill Monday that would repeal House Bill 2 entirely. Republican legislative leaders have said they have no plans to do that.