The Green Mountain State of Vermont is home to just 620,000 people, according to a 2008 census, making it the second smallest state in terms of population (only Wyoming has fewer people). Notwithstanding its small workforce, Vermont produces a respectable annual GDP of around $23 billion, per a 2005 report. The state supports an array of industries, including manufacturing, health, housing, insurance, tourism, and marble and granite quarrying. Key cash crops include artisan foods, maple syrup, milk and dairy, and lumber. International giant IBM supplies thousands of jobs for the state. Mountain and wilderness tourism also brings in billions of dollars in revenue per year. Popular ski resorts, such as Mad River Glen, Stowe, Stratton, and Mount Snow, attract skiers and mountaineers from throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions.
The Civil Rights Division of Vermont’s Attorney General’s Office handles discrimination and harassment claims. This agency is charged with enforcing Vermont laws against workplace discrimination, which make it illegal for companies to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, ancestry, race, place of birth, HIV status, religion, color, gender, and national origin. The civil rights unit also advocates for workers who have claims relating to unfair drug testing and violations of parental leave laws. It helps enforce the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides for a maximum of twelve weeks of unpaid leave in the case of one or more qualifying events, such as:
- The birth or adoption of a child.
- An employee’s severe or prolonged illness.
- Caring for a sick family member.
In addition to the Civil Rights Division, the Attorney General’s Office maintains four other sub agencies:
- The Division of Occupational Safety and Health handles workplace safety complaints and provides information for employers and employees on best practices pursuant to Vermont’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules.
- The Vermont Department of Employment and Training, Unemployment Compensation Division handles unemployment claims, provides training, and explains rules and filing deadlines to claimants.
- The Vermont Department of Labor And Industry Wage and Hour Bureau takes care of complaints regarding wage payments, child labor rules, overtime, and employment benefits. Employees may contact this agency if their employers incorrectly categorize them as exempt from overtime, falsify their timecards, or engage in other wage-theft practices.
- The VDLI’s Workers’ Compensation Division helps to protect employees from personal injury at the workplace and to collect compensation for injuries sustained due to on the job accidents.
Vermont boasts a progressive reputation when it comes to antidiscrimination, harassment, and wage and hour law. However, despite the state’s demonstrated widespread support for the rights of workers and the many avenues available to Vermont employees to obtain justice, problems can and do persist in the state. If you or a loved one has endured discrimination, wage and hour problems, retaliation, or harassment at a Vermont job, an employment attorney can help you navigate the complicated legal issues related to your case. Contact a legal professional in Vermont today to begin your path towards fair and equitable treatment.