A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living. —John F. Kennedy
In past articles, we have discussed how past employment can be proved and verified even when the past employer did not report to HireRight/DAC. In today’s hiring climate, the driver who can prove employment history has an advantage over applicants with gaps in employment.
Another record that some employers may want to verify is a military service record and drivers looking to garner employment are advised to have supporting documentation. (One of the primary records stored by DOTJobHistory drivers is DD-214 records).
Many employers find that applicants with military service provide critical skills and training that are extremely valuable in the workforce.
I spoke with Les Rosen, president of Employment Screening Resources (ESRCheck.com). Les is a business partner of mine and the author of “The Safe Hiring Manual.” Les provided the following information.
The standard way to verify military records is to ask an applicant for a copy of his or her DD-214. This is the common term for the document given to all members of the military who are discharged from the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corp or Coast Guard. The “DD” stands for Department of Defense. The short name is “discharge papers.”
For employers who want more than a cursory confirmation of military service, the story goes much deeper. There are actually a number of different copies of the DD-214 with different pieces of information. A discharged service person receives copy 1, which has the least information. The copy with the codes that gives the nature of the discharge, i.e., general, honorable, dishonorable, etc., and details of service is actually on copy 4. The codes characterize the service record of a veteran. The codes are known as SPD (Separation Program Designator), SPN (Separation Program Number) and RE (Re-Entry) codes.
Other issues with access and use of the DD-214 are listed below.
•For a discharged service person to get copy 4, the person must actually ask for it.
• If a person did not ask for the copy 4, or wants to hide some embarrassing fact, then the person may only present copy 1 to an employer, and
• If the employer wants copy 4 and the applicant does not have it, then there can be a problem acquiring and understanding the copy. The employer can have the applicant sign a Form 180 and send it to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. However, there can be a wait of up to six months. Some records are no longer available because of a very destructive fire at the St. Louis facility in 1973.
A note of caution. Even after getting a copy 4, there is the issue of translating the military codes. There are websites that provide a complete list of the codes and definitions. However, should civilian employers use these codes for hiring decisions, since the codes were meant for internal military use only? The various codes may represent items that have no foundation or were the result of clerical errors, or are simply not related to job performance.
When making hiring decisions, employers should be very careful before attempting to draw conclusions from various codes on the DD-214.
Using the codes on the DD-214 to infer conduct in order to make hiring decisions could result in claims of discrimination, or decisions being made based upon irrelevant or unsubstantiated criteria. The situation can be further complicated if the employers insist that an applicant first obtains a complete DD-214 and then rejects the applicant. That record request could potentially be viewed as evidence of discrimination.
An employer should also exercise caution in using a discharge as a basis of an employment decision. There are four common types of military discharges: honorable, general, undesirable, and dishonorable. Of these, only a dishonorable discharge is given as a result of a factual adjudication equivalent to a criminal trial. In order to avoid potential EEOC claims, an employer should treat a dishonorable discharge in the same fashion as a criminal conviction. A general discharge or undesirable discharge may or may not have any bearing on employment and generally should not be the basis of an employment decision.
The best advice may be to use the basic DD-214 to confirm a person was in fact in the military, then ask for the names of references from their military service to obtain job-related information that would be relevant to an employment decision.
If you are a driver who has been in the service, I would advise you to obtain your DD-214, securely store it and make it available to potential employers.
Derek Hinton has more than 20 years’ experience in the areas of employment screening, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Motor Carrier Safety regulations. He began his career at DAC Services in 1984 and is the author of “The Criminal Records Manual,” a book that details criminal records in the hiring process. Contact information for Hinton can be found at www.dotjobhistory.com.
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