The town of Cape Elizabeth will include veterans as a protected class, safe guarding them against potential discrimination.

Veterans, whistleblowers, and the disabled will soon join the ranks as a protected class, alongside homosexuals, minorities and women. These groups will soon be protected against discrimination in the hiring process under the Equal Opportunity Employment provision of the town’s personnel code.

Scarborough has had a similar policy in place, for at least eight years said Thomas Guter, Scarborough’s director of human resources. The policy was initially included not because there was discrimination against veterans, Guter speculated, but as a “positive step,” he said. Guter said, to the best of his knowledge, discrimination against veterans has never been a problem in Scarborough.

Cape Assistant Town Manager Deb Lane is working with the town attorney, Linda McGill, on crafting language appropriate for the amendment. Lane said the Town Council will most likely vote next month on the amendment.

Town Council Chairman David Backer said when adding veterans as a protected class was broached at last month’s council meeting, councilors were a bit puzzled. “It’s not that anyone senses that veterans are being discriminated against,” he said.

However, veterans are already federally protected under The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. This act ensures a return to work for all military personnel after completion of their assignment, in peacetime or wartime.

Michael Starn, communication director of the Maine Municipal Association, said as far as he knows, this is not a trend in Maine. If anything, he said, Cape’s inclusion of veterans is more a statement of the town’s overriding philosophy.

“That’s the beauty of local control,” he said.

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