Vermont has enacted legislation (House Bill 515) that prohibits employers from retaliating against whistleblowers. House Bill 515 is effective immediately.
Vermont has enacted the Vermont Whistleblower and Protection Act (the Act), which prohibits employers from taking adverse action, such as terminating, discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, directly or indirectly, or in any other manner retaliating against an individual who:
- Provides information to the state or a law enforcement agency concerning a possible violation of state or federal securities laws, including rules or regulations adopted under such laws, that has occurred, is ongoing, or is about to occur;
- Initiates, testifies or assists in an investigation or administrative or judicial action of the Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or other law enforcement agency based upon or related to such information;
- Makes disclosures:
Under the Act, employers also cannot:
- Take action that impedes an individual from communicating directly with the Commissioner about a possible securities law violation (see the text of the law for further details); or
- Waive the rights and remedies established under the Act with any agreement, policy form, or condition of employment.
The Act exempts from public disclosure information that could reasonably be expected to reveal a whistleblower’s identity. It does not prevent using certain information as evidence in certain legal proceedings (see the text of the law for further details).
Under the Act, individuals that are retaliated against:
- May be eligible for reinstatement with the restoration of their previous compensation, fringe benefits, and seniority;
- May bring an action within the later of:
Note: The law prohibits claims that occur more than ten years after the date of the violation.
The Act does not protect an individual that knowingly or recklessly makes false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements, or uses false documents, as part of, or in connection with, the information provided.
Vermont employers should review and revise whistleblowing and anti-retaliation policies and practices.