Women & the Economy
Pay Equity and Gender in Vermont
- Understand the Law: Vermont’s Equal Pay
Adopted in 2002, Vermont’s Equal Pay Act pertains to any employer,
employment agency, labor organization or any
person seeking Vermont employees. The Act makes it illegal for the former to
pay wages to employees of one
sex at a rate less than the rate paid to employees of the other sex in cases
where equal work is being done. Equal work entails equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar
Employees can be paid different wages when the
difference is a result of when the difference is a result of seniority
or merit system, a system in which earnings are based on quantity or quality
of production, and any other non-discriminatory
factor other than sex. Employees are also protected from discipline,
discharge, or any retaliatory act for disclosing their own wage.
If you suspect you are a victim of pay discrimination, there are a number of
things you can do. Write down what happened,
for example, were you offered a lower starting salary, or did you discover
that you are being paid less than a co-worker?
Find out how others have been treated at your workplace, talk to your employer
and decide whether to file a charge. The Vermont Attorney General has the authority to investigate complaints of
wage discrimination and to seek civil penalties
and damages from employers who violate the equal pay law. Damages are usually
double the individual’s unpaid wages. It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against you for filing a complaint
with the Attorney General’s Office.
Contact information: Attorney General’s Civil Rights Intake
Unit (888) 746-9195 (toll free Vermont only) or (802) 828-3657.
The office is located in the Pavilion Building, 109 State Street, Montpelier
The Equal Pay Act means that Vermont employers are prohibited from
discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. Employers must pay equal wages to all employees who are performing equal
work. An employer may pay different wages rates
when the difference is a result of a seniority or merit system, a system in
which earnings are based on quantity or quality of
production, or any non-discriminatory factor other than sex. Employers cannot
remedy pay inequities by reducing the wage rate
of any employee in order to comply with the equal pay law, nor can they retaliate against employees who file complaints with the
Attorney General’s Office. As of July 1, 2005 and employer may not
require as a condition of employment that employees not
disclose their wages, require employees to sign a waiver or other document
releasing their right to disclose or discuss their wages,
nor discipline, discharge or discriminate against employees who disclose or
discuss their wages.
- Employers and Employees
Use the Equal Pay Audit to protect your workplace against pay equity
- Job Descriptions: Are there clear and concise job descriptions with performance standards? Job descriptions should encompass these areas: skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. Remember that job titles are not as important as job content when it comes to determining whether the jobs are equal.
- Compensation: Evaluate the compensation system. For example, what is the relationship between wage rates and the job description? Is there a performance rating system, with measurable criteria, that differentiates between levels of performance?
- Evaluation: Is there an employee evaluation system based on stated goals and performance standards? How is it applied and is everyone included?
- Awards: Is there an awards, benefits, and merit system? How is it based on stated principles? How is it applied, how often, and who is eligible?
- Training: Are managers/supervisors trained in assessment of work performance and company policy on wages?
- Opportunities: Are there opportunities for advancement
and professional development? How are employees selected for
training, development, and promotion opportunities? Are merit
raises or bonuses based on objective criteria? Are all employees
given equal opportunity to earn merit raises or bonuses
(Montpelier) - The Vermont Commission on Women, the Civil Rights Unit of the
Vermont Attorney General, Vermont
Federation of Business and Professional Women,
and the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign are working together to
workers and employers about wage discrimination.
A revised, updated pamphlet Equal Pay: Your Rights and Obligations as a
Vermont Employee or Employer outlines
Vermont’s equal pay laws and includes
the new law signed by Governor Douglas on April 28, 2005 giving all Vermont
workers the right to disclose wages without fear of retaliation. This new law
enables workers to discover if they are being
paid equitably, prohibits wage
nondisclosure agreements, and protects employees from discharge, discipline or
discrimination when disclosing their wages.
In addition to outlining the new law, the Equal Pay pamphlet helps
employers understand the legal definition of equal
work and situations where
employees can be paid different wages. Employees
learn what rights they have as workers,
and what to do when they suspect pay
discrimination. A specialized tool, the “Equal Pay Audit,” that can be
protect every workplace against pay equity violations is also part of
Formatted for easy downloading and reproduction, the pamphlet is available on
the following websites:
- www.atg.state.vt.us (VT Office of the Attorney General, Civil Rights
- www.women.state.vt.us (VT Commission on Women)
- www.vtchamber.com (VT Chamber of Commerce) or by calling the Commission on Women at 800-881-1561
or the Office of the Attorney General, Civil Rights Unit at 888-745-9195.
Speakers are available to address this issue; call the Commission on Women at
800-881-1561 for more information.
Background and Talking Points
Vermont Women and the Livable Wage (Vermont Job Gap Study, Phase 8)
Pay Equity and Gender in Vermont
Get Involved: What's Happening in Vermont Now
Links and Resources