NEW LAW — Vermont Enacts New Protections for Crime Victims

Vermont recently passed a new law that adds crime victims as a protected status under Vermont’s Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA).  This new law goes into effect on July 1, 2018.  All Vermont employers are required to comply with this new law.

Under the new law, crime victims are afforded the same protections as other protected classes under the FEPA.  This means that they are to be free from discrimination because of their protected status.

In addition, employees who are the victim of a crime (who have continuously worked for six months or more, averaging at least 20 hours per week) are entitled to take unpaid leave only, to attend a deposition or court proceeding related to:

  • Certain criminal proceedings (the covered crimes are defined by the statute and range from things like sexual assault, domestic abuse and stalking to murder);
  • Relief from abuse hearings; order against stalking or sexual assault hearings; or
  • Relief from abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult hearing.

A “crime victim” is defined as any individual who has sustained physical, emotional, or financial injury as a direct result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime, as well as any individual who has secured an order of protection against an abuser or stalker.

The statute also provides crime victims with other rights, including:

  • Allowing the employee to choose whether to use accrued sick leave, vacation, or any other accrued paid leave to receive pay during the leave.
  • Requiring the employer must continue employment benefits for the duration of the leave at the level and under the conditions provided during employment.
  • Requiring the employer to return the employee to the same or comparable job at the same level of compensation, employment benefits, seniority, or any other term or condition of the employment existing on the day leave began.

All Vermont employers must post in each workplace a notice of the provisions of the law.