By Peter S. Gaytan
There are additional benefits available to veterans when searching for Civil Service jobs. While no benefit guarantees you a job, these may be helpful in the hunt for employment.
APPLICATIONS AFTER EXAMS HAVE CLOSED
You get additional time to file an application for vacant positions if you are a 10-point eligible veteran. That means that even if examinations have been closed for a job, you may still file an application for any vacant position if an appointment has been made from a competitive list of eligibles within the past three years. Contact the agency with the vacancy for further information. This doesn’t guarantee you the job, but does insure that you will be considered for the position. In other words, even at the last minute, if a ten point eligible files an application, he must be considered.
VETERANS PREFERRED JOBS
Some Civil Service examinations are open only to those veterans who are preference eligible, as long as there are applicants available. These jobs are: custodian, guard, elevator operator, messenger. This special preference is only for the first job, that is for veterans who are entering Civil Service for the first time.
THE RULE OF THREE
It’s important, however, to remember the Rule of Three is part of the process.
“The rule of three” is shorthand for the selection process by which Federal and state agencies must hire new employees. Job applicants are ranked based on their Civil Service exam scores and experience. The three applicants with the highest scores are eligible for being hired based on the “rule of three.” Officials of the Office of Personnel Management (or a designated agency) develop the applicant rankings, based on Civil Service exam results and experience evaluation. Veterans who are eligible for veterans’ preference have additional points added to their rank which may help to put them in the top three of qualified applicants. However, the additional points are simply added to their scores and do not insure a top three ranking.
An agency must choose from the top three candidates. The agency can’t pass over a veteran who is preference eligible in favor of a lower ranking non-preference candidate. This means within the top three, if a veteran is in the top three, if his score is higher than an applicant who is not preference eligible, the agency must choose the veteran unless there are sound reasons that relate directly to the veteran’s fitness. On the other hand, if there were not a veteran among the top three, the agency could choose any of those three applicants. It gets even more complicated because the agency does have the right to choose a lower-ranking preference eligible veteran over a compensable disabled veteran if both are among the rule of three.
HOW TO APPEAL AN AGENCY DECISION
You have the right to see why you were passed over for a job if you are a veteran who is (1) preference eligible and (2) among the top three candidates for a job. You also have the right to appeal if you believe that an agency has not given you the veterans’ preference you have earned. Before filing a complaint, however, discuss your concerns with your supervisor and/or the Federal agency personnel office that took the action. You may use a Veterans Service Organization to help you resolve your complaint. If there is no resolution after discussing your complaint with the appropriate authority, here are the next steps to file a formal complaint.
If you believe that an agency has violated your rights under any statute or regulation relating to veterans preference, contact the Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) www.dol.gov/elaws/vets/vetpref/complain.htm. Examples of these types of complaints would include: an agency has not properly accorded them their veterans’ preference; an agency failed to list jobs with State employment service offices as required by law; an agency failed to provide special placement consideration.
After the Department of Labor (DOL), Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) accepts your complaint, a VETS representative will work with the agency to resolve the complaint in a timely manner. If your case cannot be resolved within 60 days, on the 61st day you may close your case with VETS and appeal to the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB). However, if you and the VETS investigator agree, the case may remain open longer than 60 days. When you are notified that VETS has closed your case, you have 15 days to foward an appeal to the MSPB. If the MSPB has not issued a decision within 120 days, you may seek judicial redress in the U. S. District Court.
Additionally, any veteran who feels they were not fairly considered for employment within the Civil Service may contact any Office of Personnel Management Service Center for consideration of their complaint.
Peter S. Gaytan is the author of For Service to Your Country, The Insider’s Guide to Veterans’ Benefits (Citadel, 2008), available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. He has served as an advocate in securing and protecting the earned benefits of America’s veterans for more than a decade. Gaytan is the Executive Director of the American Legion, the largest veterans service organization in America.
*Material released with permission of the authors.
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