Vermont has passed new legislation that makes several adjustments to the state’s current sexual harassment legislation.
The act “provides expansive protections for both current and prospective employees and creates new restrictions and obligations for employers”.
The act’s provisions include:
- Requiring that a working relationship with a person hired “to perform work or services” be free from sexual harassment. This language is broad and likely encompasses independent contractors and unpaid interns.
- Prohibiting employment contracts from containing provisions that prevent an employee from disclosing sexual harassment or waiving an employee’s rights or remedies with respect to a claim of sexual harassment.
- Prohibiting settlement agreements regarding claims of sexual harassment from including provisions that prevent an employee from working for the employer, or working for an affiliate of the employer, in the future.
- Requiring settlement agreements regarding claims of sexual harassment to include provisions stating the agreement does not prevent the employee from reporting sexual harassment to an appropriate government agency, complying with a discovery request or testifying at a hearing or trial related to a claim of sexual harassment, or exercising his or her right under state or federal labor law to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection.
The changes went into effect July 1, 2018, meaning Vermont employers should immediately address any required changes to policies and practices in order to ensure compliance.
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