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A Message from EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows on Veterans Day 2021

On November 11, our nation honors its military veterans – the courageous women and men who have served and sacrificed to protect our country’s freedom. At the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), I particularly want to acknowledge the nearly 600 veterans who work among us – close to 28% of the EEOC. Their diligence and dedication have been vital in advancing our shared mission to prevent and remedy unlawful employment discrimination and advance equal opportunity in American workplaces.

The veterans who support the EEOC’s mission-critical efforts are a testament that everyone benefits when veterans join the civilian workforce. Yet, according to a fall 2021 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for veterans hovers around 10%, which is more than 3% higher than the nation’s overall unemployment rate. Veterans returning from deployments often encounter a harsh reality regarding job opportunities. Many suffer from a higher unemployment rate than other veterans and civilians; they also may face discrimination related to service-connected disabilities such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other impairments.

The EEOC is committed to ensuring veterans and their employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal antidiscrimination laws. The agency offers resource documents – one for veterans and one for employers – to help explain the rights and responsibilities for veterans with disabilities in the workplace. We also provide guidance for federal and state employers on how to use veterans’ hiring preference.

During July 2020, the EEOC celebrated the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 30th anniversary. Within the same month, we had a notable achievement in protecting veterans from discrimination by reaching a $2.5 million settlement with Norfolk Southern Railway. The settlement stemmed from an EEOC investigation that discovered the railway’s medical department engaged in a practice of disqualifying workers – many of whom were veterans – because of actual or perceived disabilities disclosed during pre-employment or return-to-work medical evaluations.

This Veterans Day, please take time to remember our veterans for their bravery in service to our nation and their unmeasurable sacrifices to safeguard our freedom. In collaboration with other agencies, departments, and organizations that support this crucial demographic, the EEOC will continue our efforts to ensure veterans have access to workplaces that are inclusive for all.  

With gratitude for your service on Veterans Day and always,

Charlotte A. Burrows