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Vermont Amends Anti-Discrimination Law

19 Jul


Update applicable to:

All employers operating in Vermont

What happened?

Vermont has recently strengthened its antidiscrimination law, the Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA), in several ways.

What are the details?

The following changes, which apply to employers of all sizes, took effect on July 1, 2023, just a few days after being signed into law by the governor.

Harassment Protections Expanded

The law no longer requires that conduct be “severe or pervasive” to constitute harassment or sexual harassment. This expands the scope of conduct that might be considered harassment and makes state law more protective than federal law.

FEPA now also includes a definition of harass, which means to engage in unwelcome conduct based on a protected category that interferes with the employee’s work or creates a work environment that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Additionally, the definition of sexual harassment no longer requires that the offending conduct substantially interfere with an employee’s performance at work—it only needs to interfere with their work.

Conduct can constitute harassment even if, for example:

  • It only occurred one time
  • The complaining employee permitted it or participated in it
  • The conduct occurred outside the workplace

Pay Equity Now Covers More Protected Characteristics

FEPA’s pay equity provisions prohibit employers from paying different rates to members of different protected classes for equal work. Previously, the law only addressed differences for employees of different sexes, but it now covers race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.

For more information, please see the links below:

Act No. 80 (S. 103)

Act Summary

Official Bill Page

Overview of Employment Discrimination Under Vermont Law

Fair Employment Practices Statute

Fair Employment Practices Act

What do employers need to do?

Employers should review their harassment prevention policy and update it if needed. If employers do make changes, they will need to redistribute the policy to employees and get their written acknowledgment, whether as a standalone policy or an employee handbook addendum. Employers should also notify supervisors of these changes, train them on how to recognize conduct that could constitute harassment, and how to respond.

Need help understanding how changes to employment laws will affect your business?

Learn more about how Vensure's Vermont PEO services can help you navigate complex employment laws and keep your business compliant.

This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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