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37-19.1-04. Refusal to give preference - Retaliatory action or removal - Remedies - Procedures

1. If a veteran, or a qualified veteran's spouse, hereafter known as the applicant, is not given the preference provided in section 37-19.1-02 or 37-19.1-03, the applicant, within fifteen days after notification by certified mail that employment has been refused, may request a hearing as provided in subsection 3. The notification from the employer must include the reasons for nonselection, inform the applicant of the right to an appeal hearing, inform the applicant of the requirement that the request for a hearing must be filed by certified mail within fifteen days after the notification, inform the applicant that a request for an appeal hearing must be made to the commissioner of veterans' affairs at the included commissioner's mailing address, and inform the applicant that if the applicant requests an appeal, the applicant must mail a copy of the request for an appeal hearing to the employer or employing agency. The applicant's request for a hearing must be in writing, must include a copy of the employer's notification that employment has been refused, and must be mailed to the commissioner of veterans' affairs by certified mail. A copy of the written request must be mailed to the employer or employing agency by certified mail. The applicant is entitled to immediate employment in the position for which application was originally made, or an equivalent position, together with backpay and benefits from the date the appointment should have been made less amounts otherwise earnable through due diligence, if the hearing officer finds in favor of the applicant.
 
2. Any person who has exercised the right to an employment preference under this chapter, and who, within one year after exercise of that right:
 
a. Is discharged;
b. Has had compensation reduced; or
c. Is otherwise subject to action by the employing agency designed to cause the veteran or qualified veteran's spouse to resign or quit employment, is entitled to a hearing if the person believes that the employing agency took any of the above-described action due to the exercise of employment preference. The hearing must be held before a hearing officer as provided in subsection 3. If the hearing officer finds that the employing agency took any of the actions described in subdivision a, b, or c due to the person's exercise of the right to an employment preference, the hearing officer shall order the employing agency to cease and desist from such action or to reinstate the veteran or qualified veteran's spouse. The request for a hearing under this subsection must be in writing addressed to the commissioner of veterans' affairs. The request for a hearing must identify the employer or employing agency that took any action described in subdivision a, b, or c and describe the action taken. A copy of the written request must be mailed to the employer or employing agency. The request, addressed to the commissioner of veterans' affairs and the copy to the employer or employing agency, must be made by certified mail within fifteen calendar days after any action described in subdivision a, b, or c is taken by the employing agency.
 
3. Within fifteen days after receiving a request from an applicant or person under subsection 1 or 2, the commissioner of veterans' affairs may request the director of the office of administrative hearings to designate a hearing officer to hear the grievance arising under subsection 1 or 2. The commissioner shall notify the employer or employing agency that a request for a hearing has been made. The office of administrative hearings is entitled to be reimbursed by the employer or employing agency for all hearing officer services rendered and expenses incurred in performing these duties. The hearing officer shall hold the hearing within thirty  calendar days after the hearing officer request is received by the director of the office of administrative hearings. Notwithstanding the time limitation, the hearing officer may postpone or continue the hearing for good cause, at the request of a party. At the hearing, both parties may be represented by counsel. If the hearing is requested pursuant to subsection 1, the employing agency has the burden of proving that the veteran or the qualified veteran's spouse did not possess the qualifications required for the position. If the hearing is requested pursuant to subsection 2, the employing agency has the burden of proving that any action which was taken was not taken because of exercise of the right to an employment preference. The hearing officer shall issue findings of fact, conclusions of law, and an order within fifteen days after the hearing is concluded, briefs filed, and arguments closed. The order is binding on both parties, subject to appeal.
 
4. Any party aggrieved by the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order of the hearing officer may appeal in the manner provided for in chapter 28-32, except that the appellant need not execute an undertaking.