Legislators Consider Bills Addressing Workplace Discrimination

The House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee continued work on two bills regarding discrimination in housing, education, public accommodation, and employment. H.320 would prohibit discrimination settlement agreements between employer and employee from including prohibitions on future employment, which advocates say unfairly penalize victims of workplace harassment. However, some employment attorneys have raised concerns that this could take away what little leverage employees have in settlement negotiations.

H.329 would amend the prohibitions against discrimination by removing the “severe and pervasive” standard for harassment based on any protected class, establish a uniform 6-year statute of limitations, allow an employee to file a claim without having previously pursued an internal grievance process, and remove the requirement that an employee demonstrate that a comparable employee was treated differently to prove that discrimination occurred.

The Committee will review these proposals and decide if additional laws are needed to protect employees from discrimination in the workplace while considering the concerns of employers and the protections afforded in current law.  To share your thoughts on these bills, email the Vermont Chamber Government Affairs Team.