White House can limit vets-first hiring law, agency says

The White House won a legal victory when a federal agency ruled that the Obama administration did not violate a military veteran's rights when it rejected his application under a new jobs program for recent graduates. The ruling limited the reach of a law that says vets must get first preference in hiring for federal jobs.

The case involved a disabled veteran, David Dean, who applied for a job under the Pathways Recent Graduates Program, a federal internship system created by President Obama in 2010. Dean's application was rejected because the White House limited the program to people who had finished their studies within the previous two years and he fell outside that requirement.

Dean sued, arguing the two-year requirement was arbitrary and the rejection therefore violated the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act, a 1998 law that says vets must be given preference in all federal hiring decisions provided they are at least minimally qualified for the job.

On Thursday, the Merit Systems Protections Board, a quasi-independent federal agency that acts a watchdog on federal hiring laws, ruled in favor of the White House. It said the veterans preference does not automatically trump the other eligibility requirements the White House had created for the program.

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