Federal laws protect workers in the United States, but some laws - such as minimum wage - vary by state. Here's an overview of issues in Vermont.
The Hiring Process
Laws against discrimination come into play as soon as a "help wanted" ad is published. It's illegal for companies to state that they prefer single applicants or workers younger than 40. During interviews, employers can't ask if an applicant has children or discuss religious preferences.
Vermont's minimum wage is $8.60 for most workers. Employers can pay full-time high school students the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The minimum is $4.17 for tipped employees, although employers must make up the difference if workers don't bring in enough tips to reach the minimum required wage per hour. Workers must be paid 1.5 times their usual rate after they work more than 40 hours in a week.
Safe On The Job
Vermont is one of a handful of states that is allowed to operate its own on-the-job safety program because its laws are stronger than the federal system in certain respects. In addition to setting strict safety requirements, the state's program offers voluntary training aimed at reducing on-the-job injuries. Workers can report problems with equipment, buildings or procedures, and companies aren't allowed to retaliate against them because of it.
All companies in Vermont must carry workers' compensation insurance. Most employers purchase the policies, but some are permitted to self-insure if they can prove that they have the financial resources to do so. The insurance covers about two-thirds of lost wages and medical and rehabilitation payments for workers injured on the job. The goal is to allow them to return to their job or to a comparable position.
Holidays And Vacation
Paid or unpaid time off for vacations or holidays is not required in Vermont. Neither is paid sick leave, although the federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires businesses with at least 50 employees to allow unpaid leave. Vermont workers aren't guaranteed pay for jury duty, but neither can employers retaliate against them for serving by firing, demoting or reducing the hours of employees.
Harassment is illegal and victims can sue if it's so severe that a reasonable person would object to it, or if the harassment is a condition of keeping the job. Harassing comments can include anything from jokes to direct insults based on gender, national origin, race, age or disability.
Vermont is an "at will" state, so employees can leave a job or employers can let them go for any or no reason. Final wages must be paid within 72 hours of the end of employment.
Workers can draw unemployment if they're laid off, fired or if their hours are reduced. The only exception is if someone is let go for cause or misconduct. Some workers - those employed at firms with more than 20 workers - can continue their health insurance coverage, though workers must pay the full premiums.
Contact A Labor Lawyer for Help
This article is intended as an overview of a complicated topic. If you need help with a specific employment issue, consult a local labor and employment lawyer in Vermont.