Vermont Passes New Sexual Harassment Law
In the latest example of “keeping up with the Joneses,” last week Vermont passed new legislation aimed at reducing (and publicizing) incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace. Similar to laws passed in many other states in the wake of the #MeToo movement, Vermont’s new law guarantees independent contractors, volunteers, and interns a working environment “free from harassment,” just as it does regular employees.
Changes to Settlement Agreements
Vermont no longer allows companies to prohibit individuals who have settled claims of sexual harassment with the employer from working with that organization in the future. This is a sweeping change that is unique in the country, in that it makes it easier for employees who resolve claims to return to their jobs, or work for the company where the incident occurred in the future.
Investigation Procedures Revamped
Investigation practices are also changing under the new Vermont sexual harassment law. Prior to the passage of this legislation the Vermont Attorney General did not have the specific right to visit places of employment and examine their harassment prevention practices. Beginning July 1, employers will need to watch out for representatives from the Vermont Department of Human Rights auditing practices or even ordering training sessions if they find deficiencies in organizational harassment prevention tactics.
Online Filing System Implemented for Charges of Harassment
Lastly, Vermont’s new law is making it easier for complainants to file charges of sexual harassment and discrimination by allowing charges to be filed wholly online. By eliminating physical steps to be taken, the legislature aims to streamline the process in hopes that more victims will come forward with allegations of harassment. Of course, whenever state legislatures take these steps it makes it easier for frivolous claims to also be filed, which is why educating your workforce on what harassment is (and is not) has become all the more important in the wake of the new law.
If you have employees in Vermont we encourage you to contact a member of Syntrio’s staff to learn more about training options that are available to you and your organization.
Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.
Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.
Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio