Vermont Labor Law: Racial Discrimination


Area of Law: 

As in any state, it is important to deal with issues surrounding workplace racial discrimination in Vermont.  The state of Vermont has very strict laws prohibiting discrimination of any kind, and with the population becoming more ethnically diverse, it is more important than ever that vigilance is practiced when trying to make workplaces fair for all people regardless of color or national origin.  In Vermont, the laws governing workplace racial discrimination are very clear; nonetheless, it can become complicated if you feel that you have been a victim of discrimination or that you have been asked to participate in a practice you are not comfortable with because you feel it is discriminatory.  It is important that you understand your rights so that you know exactly what actions you can and cannot take to get your discrimination complaint handled swiftly and efficiently.  Every person in every work place deserves fair treatment, and knowing how to handle an infraction is the key to getting it taken care of in the right way.


Vermont law is not ambiguous about discrimination, though sometimes employers will try to make it seem like there is a grey area.  If you have been denied a position or a pay raise based on your skin color or race, or if you have been given certain jobs to do based on a racial stereotype made by your employer, these actions are illegal and unfair.  Making work decisions based on racial profiling is always illegal regardless of how harmless your employer may think it is.  If something like this has happened to you, you are well within your rights to make a formal complaint.


Usually, the first step for people wanting to make a complaint against their employer is to try to settle the issue internally.  If your company has a human resources department, contact them to see if they can help you.  If for some reason this does not resolve the issue, or if you feel too intimidated to speak to someone within the company, your next port of call is to get some legal advice.  There are plenty of discrimination lawyers in Vermont who can advise you as to whether or not your claim would be likely to result in a judgment in your favor.  You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to start the complaint process, and as soon as you fill out the required paperwork, you will be on your way.


The EEOC does have some requirements, though.  You cannot file a claim against someone you worked for many years ago who treated you in a discriminatory manner.  There is a 180-day statute of limitations on racial discrimination claims, meaning that from the time you are discriminated against, you have roughly six months to file your complaint.  In cases that involve ongoing discrimination, you can start counting your 180 days from the date of the most recent discriminatory act.