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Vermont Expands Employment Protections Regarding Employer Communications

The State of Vermont has enacted a new law that introduces significant protections for employees concerning employer communications about religious or political matters.

The law mandates that employees cannot be discharged, disciplined, or otherwise discriminated against if they choose not to attend or participate in employer-sponsored meetings or communications focused on the employer’s opinions about religious or political matters. Employers also cannot compel employees to attend meetings or participate in communications with the primary purpose of expressing the employer’s opinions on religious or political matters.

The amendment also includes exemptions for specific organizations. Religious or denominational institutions, organizations operated for charitable or educational purposes under religious supervision, and political organizations are exempted. These entities may communicate their religious or political views to their employees and require attendance at related meetings. However, employers can still communicate information mandated by state or federal law, necessary for job functions, or offer voluntary meetings on religious or political topics.

New definitions:

  • “Political matters” includes topics like political affiliation, elections, political parties, legislative proposals, and the decision to join or support any political organization.

  • “Religious matters” encompasses topics such as religious affiliation, practice, and the decision to join or support any religious organization.

This legislation will take effect on July 1, 2024.