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Vermont Civil Rights Laws

When we use the phrase, "civil rights," we often think of such powerful figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, or Malcolm X. In the context of the legal field, civil rights refers to the rights of individuals to receive equal treatment under the law, which includes freedom from discrimination in employment and other settings.

Civil Rights Under Federal Law

For the most part, civil rights are enforced at the federal level -- most notably the far-reaching protections provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . But Vermont and other states typically provide additional civil rights protections within their borders. For instance, it is a violation of Vermont civil rights laws for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of one's gender identity or expression.

Examples of Civil Rights

Examples of civil rights lawsuits can include:

Vermont State Civil Rights Laws

On a state level, Vermont has enacted several laws which prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, or sex (including maternity and pregnancy). These laws include:

Vermont Human Rights Commission

The Vermont Human Rights Commission is the state agency charged with the responsibility of enforcing Vermont's anti-discrimination laws. The Commission investigates complaints of discrimination filed in the following protected areas:

  • Employment;
  • Housing;
  • Education;
  • Public Accommodations (including restaurants, stores, professional offices, government agencies and other places offering goods or services to the general public);
  • State and local governmental agency.

Private Employers Discrimination

If you work for a private employer and believe you may have experienced discrimination, contact the Vermont Attorney General's Office Civil Rights Unit or a civil rights attorney in your area.

The procedural nuts and bolts of Vermont's civil rights laws are listed in the table below. For more information, see FindLaw's Civil Rights section.

Code Section Tit. 9 §4501, et seq. (Public Accommodations); Tit. 21 §495, et seq. (Employment)
Agency Public Accommodations Human Rights Commission; Vermont Attorney General's Office
Administrative Preemption? No
Private Lawsuit Permitted? Yes
Attorney's Fees Recoverable Yes
Time Limit to File Public Accommodations: Not specified; Employment: 6 yrs. (Tit. 12 §511)
Protected Classes


  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • Physical or Mental Disability
  • Race/ National Origin/
  • Color
  • Religion/Creed
  • Sex (including pregnancy, maternity, sexual harassment)
  • Familial Status (housing only)
  • Political ideas (only in the provisions or governmental services or governmental employment)
  • Retaliation (for engaging in a protected activity)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Vermont Civil Rights attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Vermont Civil Rights Laws: Related Resources

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