The Human Rights Commission is Vermont's civil rights enforcement. Civil rights enforcement is based primarily on individual complaints of discriminatory conduct. The Commission's role is to protect the public's interest in equal access to housing, places of public accommodation, and in state government employment.
Staff of the Commission conduct impartial investigations of allegations of discrimination under the Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act (VFHPA), the Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act (for State government employees only) and the anti-harrassment provisions of education laws, and determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that unlawful discrimination occurred in a case.
During the course of the impartial investigation, Commission staff seek to resolve complaints through conciliation and, if appropriate, formal mediation. If the Commission finds reasonable grounds to believe that a person or entity discriminated against someone in a protected class (see Jurisdiction), the Commission engages in post-determination conciliation efforts. If a settlement cannot be reached, the Commission may authorize staff to file suit in state court to enforce the public interest.
The Commission does not represent any party to a complaint. Its role is to conduct an impartial investigation into the facts and make a recommendation to the Commissioners as to whether or not there are reasonable grounds to believe that discrimination occurred. For more detailed information on the process, see the Guide for Complainants and Responding Parties and flow chart.