Traliant Resources


Equal Employment Opportunity


Please review the information below and then return to the workplace harassment prevention course tab. 

Harassment and discrimination based on a protected characteristic are prohibited under both federal and state law.  The federal government and most state governments have agencies that help employers and employees understand these legal requirements and ensure compliance with the laws.

Protected Characteristics

Harassment or discrimination based on any protected characteristic set forth below is prohibited in Vermont.


  • race 

  • color

  • national origin

  • sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity)

  • gender expression

  • disability

  • genetic information (including family medical history)

  • religion

  • age (40 and older)


  • race

  • color

  • national origin or place of birth

  • ancestry

  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related condition)

  • gender identity

  • sexual orientation

  • positive result on an HIV-related blood test

  • age (18 and older)

  • physical or mental condition

  • genetic information

  • religion

  • status as a crime victim or family member of crime victim

  • credit history

  • National Guard membership or service

  • assertion of workers’ compensation claims

  • taking parental or family leave

Important Notes

In addition to the general protected characteristics listed above, some federal, state, and/or local laws also prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of other protected statuses in certain contexts, such as:

  • citizenship status or work authorization status,

  • emergency volunteer status,

  • family relationship with a co-worker, and/or

  • status based on information contained in criminal, background, or credit reports, or being subject to wage garnishments.


Likewise, some federal, state, and/or local laws prohibit discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation for exercising certain legal rights such as:

  • participating in collective bargaining or union activities,

  • serving as a whistleblower pursuant to whistleblower laws,

  • filing a worker’s compensation or unemployment claim,

  • taking protected time off or protected leave,

  • engaging in certain off-duty activities.

Finally, under federal law and some state and/or local laws, employers may not limit or prohibit employees from using any languages in the workplace unless there is a business necessity for the restriction.

Note also that some federal, state, and/or local laws provide additional, separate standards and remedies for certain prohibited conduct, such as laws addressing equal pay without regard to sex or other protected category or specifically addressing sexual harassment prevention measures.

Applicable Laws


The primary federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination include Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, The Age Discrimination in Employment ActThe Americans With Disabilities ActThe Equal Pay ActThe Uniformed Services and Employment and Reemployment ActThe Immigration and Nationality Act, and The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that Title VII protects individuals from employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 (U.S. June 15, 2020).


The primary state law prohibiting employment discrimination, including harassment, is the Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act.  Additionally, 18 Vt Stat. Ann. § 9333 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic information.

What is Harassment under Vermont Law?

Vermont law defines harassment as any unwelcome conduct based on an employee’s protected characteristic(s) which interferes with the employee’s work or creates a work environment that is intimidating, hostile or offensive. A single incident may constitute unlawful harassment. Harassment need not be severe or pervasive to be unlawful. However, conduct that a reasonable employee in the same protected class would consider to be a petty slight or trivial inconvenience is not sufficient to constitute unlawful harassment.

Conduct may constitute harassment regardless of whether:

  • the complaining employee is the individual being harassed;
  • the complaining employee acquiesced or otherwise submitted to or participated in the conduct;
  • the conduct is also experienced by others outside the protected class;
  • the complaining employee was able to continue carrying out their duties;
  • the conduct resulted in a physical or psychological injury; or
  • the conduct occurred outside the workplace.

Filing a Claim in Vermont

An employment discrimination or harassment claim may be filed with the  Office of the Vermont Attorney General, Civil Rights Unit and/or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), depending on the employer’s size and the protected characteristic on which the claim is based.

The complaint filing requirements and deadlines may differ depending on the federal or state law claimed to have been violated. In certain cases, if a complaint is not timely filed with the appropriate administrative agency, the discrimination claim may be barred.

Retaliation Prohibited

Employer retaliation against an employee who files a discrimination or harassment complaint or is involved in the complaint process is unlawful.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only.
It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.