Reasonable Grounds Cases

Below you will find links to investigative reports of cases in which the Vermont Human Rights Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that discrimination occurred in housing, employment, or a place of public accommodation.  By statute, when the Vermont Human Rights Commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that unlawful discrimination occurred, the Investigative Report, the Final Determination (including the identities of the Complainant and the Respondent), and any Post-Determination Conciliation Agreement (PDCA) become public documents.  If the Vermont Human Rights Commission finds that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that unlawful discrimination occurred, the Commission closes the cases and the identities of the parties remain confidential. 

Note that in some cases (e.g., “Smith” v. OSSU and “Green” v. WCSU), the preliminary recommendation in the Administrative Law Examiner's report was for a finding of no reasonable grounds. After its deliberations, the Commission reversed these preliminary recommendations and made final determinations of reasonable grounds. In a few cases, the Commission made partial reasonable grounds and partial no reasonable grounds final determinations where more than one claim or protected category was included in the initial allegations.

Once the Commission makes a final determination of reasonable grounds, the parties involved have six months within which to negotiate a settlement. If a case is not settled within that time period, the Commission must make a decision whether to take the case to court. In some cases, settlement is not reached, the Commission declines to litigate the case, and the case is closed without settlement.

The documents listed below all contain the initial investigative report, the Commission’s final determination, and if settled, the post-determination conciliation agreement (PDCA). Most post-determination conciliation agreements are reached through informal negotiation or through formal mediation. Cases that were closed without settlement, cases that were settled through litigation, and cases that are currently in active litigation are indicated as such. The most recent reasonable grounds cases are in active settlement negotiations.

The investigative reports are available for reasonable grounds cases from FY00 to the present (all in PDF format).  During this time period, the Vermont Human Rights Commission found reasonable grounds to believe that discrimination occurred in 89 cases, one of which is no longer valid due to changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment that went into effect in January 2009 (and therefore the case is not posted on this website).  The reasonable grounds cases are listed below by jurisdiction and type of charge. 

 
Employment:
 
Accessibility
 
Equal Pay Act
Disability discrimination
Hurdle v. Vermont Military Department (stipulated agreement - available by request) (2006)
 
Hostile work environment
 
National origin discrimination
 
Parental and family leave
 
Reasonable Accommodation
 
Retaliation
Cray v. Secretary of State (no settlement/closed) (2001)
 
Sex discrimination
 
Housing:
 
Advertising
 
Disability discrimination
Brier v. Duclos (withdrawn due to court proceedings) (2012)
 
Hostile environment
 
Minor children discrimination
Tilton v. Porta (settled 2012)
Wilson v. Jackson (settled/closed) (2010)
 
Public assistance discrimination
Horton v. Reed (no settlement/closed) (2007)
 
Race discrimination
 
Reasonable accommodation
Arbour v. St. Clair (litigated settlement) (2004)
 
Retaliation
Arbour v. St. Clair (litigated settlement)  (2004)
Tanner v. St. Clair (litigated settlement)  (2004)
 
Service animals
Goodrich v. Bycel (PDCA) (2004)
 
Discrimination based on Sexual orientation
Tanner v. St. Clair (litigated settlement) (2004)
 
Public Accommodations:
 
Accessibility
 
Architectural barriers
Lambert v. Kmart (PDCA)  (2003)
Trudo v. Rehlen & Special Effects (no settlement/closed) (2000)
 
Breastfeeding
 
Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation
Berthold v. Rock River Cottage and Antiques (no settlement/closed) (2013)
 
Disability discrimination
Carr v. Town of Hartford (PDCA)  (2004)
Stetson v. Burlington Police Department (no settlement/closed)  (2000)
 
National Origin, Race and Color discrimination
 
Race discrimination
Curry v. The Wobbly Barn (no settlement/closed) (2003)
Freeman v. Norwich University (no settlement/closed) (2002)
Lee v. Benway’s Taxi (litigated settlement) (2001)
Douglas v. Censor Security (no settlement/closed) (2000)
 
Reasonable accommodation
Scribner v. University of Vermont (no settlement/closed)  (1999)
 
Religion
 
School harassment
 
Service animals
Cornick-Kelly v. Fletcher Allen Health Care (no settlement/closed) (2005)
Corbeil v. Music Club (PDCA)  (2004)
 
Sex discrimination
McCarty v. Freedom Chevrolet (no settlement/closed) (2002)