Vermont Senate advances changes to workplace harassment law
The Vermont Senate gave its strong approval this week to legislation that expands the definition of what constitutes harassment in the workplace.
Windham Senator Wendy Harrison said the new provisions will better protect individuals in their workplace and "places of public accommodation."
"They clarify that sexual harassment includes written, auditory or visual conduct, in additional to verbal or physical — again, this is consistent with interpretations made by the courts," Harrison said. "It provides again that sexual harassment need not be 'severe or pervasive' to be unlawful."
The bill also prohibits companies from including a ban on future employment in the final settlement of any harassment case.
Five years ago, lawmakers outlawed these kinds of bans in settlements of sexual harassment complaints.
The new legislation would expand the law so that people making claims of other types of discrimination — such as discrimination based on race, religion or sexual orientation — would not be asked to sign away their ability to work for the employer as part of a settlement.
S.103 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
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