Discrimination against people with disabilities is illegal in all aspects of employment under Vermont’s Fair Employment Practices act (for employers with at least one employee) and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (for employers with at least 15 employees).
People with physical or mental disabilities who can perform the essential functions of their jobs (with or without reasonable accommodations) are protected from discrimination in employment. These legal protections apply to all aspects of employment including hiring, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, firing, and any other term or condition of employment.
The law requires that an employer provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability when asked, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace (or in the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. Reasonable accommodation might include, for example, providing a ramp for a wheelchair user or providing a reader or interpreter for a blind or deaf employee or applicant. It can also include accessible parking, a quiet office space, or a flexible work schedule, so long as these adjustments do not interfere with essential functions of the job.
Employers must engage in an interactive process with employees and prospective employees about what specific accommodations they are requesting. This means that they must communicate with each other and not make assumptions about what the employee or prospective employee needs.
Resources on discrimination based on disability
More information about specific Vermont and federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on disability:
- Vermont law prohibiting discrimination based on disability: Section 495d of Title 21 of Vermont Statutes Annotated
- Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
More resources about disability-based discrimination:
- Vermont Legal Aid “Disability-Based Discrimination in Employment”
- Vermont Legal Aid “What Employers Can Do”
- Vermont Legal Aid “What to do if an Employer Discriminates Based on Your Disability”
- Disability Rights Vermont “Survivor’s Guide to Overcoming Disability Barriers: A Guide to Overcoming Barriers to Employment and Housing and Obtaining the Benefits You Need”
- Disability Discrimination, WorkplaceFairness.org
- The Campaign for Disability Employment
There are many agencies, providers, and organizations in Vermont working to advance and support the inclusion of people with disabilities in Vermont’s workplaces. An extensive list can be found on VCW’s Resources Page for Disability and Accessibility.
If you believe you may be a victim of workplace harassment or discrimination on the basis of any legally protected category or categories, find more information: