Photo of Senator Flexer.

State Senator

Mae Flexer

Representing Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson & Windham

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Flexer Leads Senate Passage of Bill Protecting Access to Critical Services for Connecticut Veterans

New CHRO guidance ensures veterans with “bad papers” receive equal treatment when seeking employment opportunities

photo of Senator Flexer.

Following Wednesday’s unanimous Senate passage of a bill protecting Connecticut veterans with other-than-honorable discharges, Senator Mae Flexer (D-Danielson) and veterans advocacy groups announced new guidance to ensure that all veterans receive equal treatment in seeking employment opportunities during a press conference at the Commission on Equity and Opportunity’s Hartford office Thursday.

Senate Bill 284, An Act Concerning Benefits for Certain Veterans Who Have Been Diagnosed With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Or Traumatic Brain Injury Or Who Have Had An Experience of Sexual Trauma, would assist veterans with other-than-honorable discharges by ensuring that they can access critical state veteran’s benefits.

“I am proud to have led Senate passage of a critical piece of legislation yesterday that aims to improve the quality of life for our returning service members who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or traumatic brain injuries, or have endured military sexual trauma. For these veterans in particular, readjusting to civilian life can be especially challenging,” Veterans Committee Co-Chair Senator Mae Flexer (D-Danielson) said. “Veterans who go without treatment because they are denied access to services are more likely to encounter homelessness, substance abuse, and commit suicide at a higher rate. We can and must do better to help those who served. I’m proud to have worked with my co-chair Senator Martin to lead this important step forward in our state, a step that is leading the nation in providing fairness and equity for all of our veterans.”

The new guidance by the CHRO clarifies that employers should afford individualized consideration to all job applicants, regardless of their military discharge status. This guidance follows the passage of a new law authorized by Sen. Flexer that prohibits discrimination against veterans.

Currently, some private employers categorically exclude job applicants with less-than-Honorable discharges from the military (colloquially known as “bad paper”). However, due to a number of discriminatory policies and practices, the military issues bad paper at a significantly higher rate to Black and Latino service members, LGBT service members, and service members with a disability. Accordingly, employers with blanket policies of rejecting these veterans during the job application process may run afoul of antidiscrimination law.

“Both the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act and federal law prohibit private employers from discriminating against job applicants with respect to race, sexual orientation, and disability,” said Cheryl Sharp, CHRO’s Deputy Director. “CHRO’s new guidance clarifies that employers should afford individualized consideration to all job applicants, regardless of their military discharge status. Employers should consider the nature of an applicant’s offense, how long ago the offense occurred, and whether it has any bearing on the duties relevant to the job in question.”

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