Chapter 139: DISCRIMINATION; PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS; RENTAL AND SALE OF REAL ESTATE
9 V.S.A. § 4502. Public accommodations
§ 4502. Public accommodations
(a) An owner or operator of a place of public accommodation or an agent or employee of such owner or operator shall not, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity of any person, refuse, withhold from, or deny to that person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of the place of public accommodation.
(b) An owner or operator of a place of public accommodation or his or her employee or agent shall not prohibit from entering a place of public accommodation:
(h) This section shall not be construed to require a public accommodation to permit an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, facilities, goods, privileges, advantages and accommodations of that public accommodation when that individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For the purposes of this subsection, “direct threat” means a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services. In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, a public accommodation shall make an individualized assessment based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence to ascertain:
(1) the nature, duration and severity of the risk; and
(2) the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and
(3) whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices or procedures will mitigate the risk.
(i) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a public accommodation from excluding a person engaged in disruptive behavior which the place of public accommodation has reason to believe is the result of alcohol or illegal drug use.
(j) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any place of public accommodation in which the mother and child would otherwise have a legal right to be.
§ 4506. Enforcement; civil action.
(a) A person aggrieved by a violation of this chapter may file a charge of discrimination with the human rights commission pursuant to chapter 141 of this title or may bring an action for injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages and any other appropriate relief in the superior court of the county in which the violation is alleged to have occurred.
(b) The court may award costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to an aggrieved person who prevails in an action brought under subsection (a) of this section.
(c) The human rights commission may bring an action in the name of the commission to enforce the provisions of this chapter in accordance with its powers established in chapter 141 of this title.
(d) The initiation or completion of an investigation by the human rights commission shall not be a condition precedent to the filing of any lawsuit for violation of this chapter.
§ 305. Nursing mothers in the workplace
(a) For an employee who is a nursing mother, the employer shall for three years after the birth of a child:
(1) provide reasonable time, either compensated or uncompensated, throughout the day to express breast milk for her nursing child. The decision to provide compensated time shall be in the sole discretion of the employer, unless modified by a collective bargaining agreement; and
(2) make a reasonable accommodation to provide appropriate private space that is not a bathroom stall.
(b) An employer may be exempted from the provisions of subsection (a) of this section if providing time or an appropriate private space for expressing breast milk would substantially disrupt the employer’s operations.
(c) An employer shall not retaliate or discriminate against an employee who exercises the right provided under this section.
(d) In lieu of an enforcement action through the Vermont Judicial Bureau, the attorney general or a state’s attorney may enforce the provisions of this section by bringing a civil action for temporary or permanent injunctive relief, economic damages, including prospective lost wages for a period not to exceed one year, investigative and court costs. The attorney general or a state’s attorney may conduct an investigation of an alleged violation and enter into a settlement agreement with the employer. Such investigation shall not be a prerequisite to bringing a court action.