Attorney General TJ Donovan

Attorney General TJ Donovan

“The best way to enforce the law in Vermont is to give people the opportunity to comply with it.”



-Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan

 

Attorney General TJ Donovan has launched a new initiative to help small businesses:

  • understand and comply with Vermont law;
  • solve problems and connect to resources;
  • navigate State government.

We are listening and learning about better ways the Attorney General can assist small businesses. We are meeting with businesses, trade associations and business groups in every corner of Vermont.  We will work to solve problems that small businesses perceive. We cannot provide legal advice, but we can provide small businesses with information and answers to common questions.

Find Answers Here:

Acquiring Commercial Property

Doing your due diligence before making a financial commitment to a commercial space is imperative to avoiding unexpected and unwelcome surprises.  Use your community of resources to get quality information before you commit.

Follow this five-point checklist to determine whether permits are required for you to locate your business where and how you’d like:

If you get assistance early and often from these knowledgeable sources, you can determine time, cost and feasibility for acquiring municipal and State permits – in turn avoiding unexpected expenses and unanticipated and uncontrollable delays

Agricultural Industry Resources

Working with a variety of stakeholders, CAP has compiled this list of resources for some of the most pressing concerns in the agricultural industry. Know a link or issue that should be included? Email AGO.smallbusiness@vermont.gov.

Ban the Box

campus in the evening

Employers are not permitted to ask about a job applicant’s criminal history on an initial employment application form. This gives fair consideration to promising candidates with a criminal history.

TJ was a strong advocate for this law, which is in line with his criminal justice reform ideals. If your business is interested in giving folks another chance -- check out our plain language informationWorking Fields LLC is another excellent resource, and you may be eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

Here is the complete Fair Employment Practices statute.

Cause-related Marketing

Run for a cause

If your business is fundraising for a cause, you must be sure to clearly state the charitable organization's name, the amount that will be donated, and if there is a maximum donation amount. Examples and additional information can be found on this website.

Here is a link to the complete cause-related marketing statute (see Subchapter 6).

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Vermont allows employers to test current employees for alcohol or drugs only in very limited circumstances, where the employer has in place a detailed and specific set of protocols and procedures. Random drug testing is explicitly prohibited. Check out our plain language information on drug and alcohol testing, written for employers.

Here is the complete drug testing statute (see Subchapter 11).

Equipment Leases

equipment

The most common complaints received by CAP from business consumers are for credit card equipment leases. In the typical credit card equipment lease, businesses end up paying thousands of dollars for equipment worth hundreds of dollars. You have a right to cancel every sale made either in person or by phone within three days of the sale. The seller must provide you with notice of this right. If you did not receive such notice, then you may cancel your lease at any time until that notice is provided.

Vermont businesses seeking more information can check out our plain language information, and here is the complete three day right to cancel statute.

Gift Certificates

Certificate

If your business issues gift certificates or gift cards, they cannot expire sooner than five years from being issued. The expiration date must be printed on the certificate or card. Upon expiration, the remaining value must be refunded. There are exceptions for certain kinds of promotional gift certificates. If no expiration date appears, then the law treats the certificate or card as not having an expiration date.

Here is the complete Gift Certificates statute.

Hiring Your First Employee

You've established a business as a sole proprietor in Vermont. Even better - you're growing and need to hire your first employee. We've put together the steps you need to take to comply with Federal and State laws.

Businesses are also encouraged to speak with an accountant and/or attorney to assure compliance. These folks can also help with best practices and policies for: the hiring process, personnel issues, recordkeeping and insurance.

Landlord Restoration Program

Campus by University Heights

We are pleased to announce a new Landlord Restoration Program in partnership with the Vermont Department of Health. The goal of the program is to provide information and resources to landlords to help restore them to compliance with Vermont’s lead-safety laws.

More information can be found here, and you can download the enrollment form by clicking here. 

Nursing Moms

Mother and Baby

Vermont businesses are required to offer nursing mothers time and private space to express breast milk for three years from the birth of their child. Employers seeking more information can check out our plain language information, this quick-reference factsheet, and solutions sorted by industry.

Employers cannot discriminate against an employee who exercises her right. If this right is violated, employees can contact the Attorney General's Civil Rights Unit at 802-828-3657 or 888-745-9195

Here is the complete Nursing mothers in the workplace statute.

Paid Sick Leave

Checking out films in the lab

Employers must accrue paid sick leave for all employees--at least one hour of sick leave for every 52 hours an employee actually works. It can be used for the employee or their family, during illness, for obtaining health care or long-term care, traveling to an appointment, or addressing the effects of domestic violence or stalking. Employers seeking more information can check out our plain language information.

Here is the complete Paid Sick Leave statute.

Pregnant Employees (effective 1/1/18)

Professor in class

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. Examples of accomodations include permitting additional breaks or providing equipment to fulfill essential functions of the job. Employers can check out our plain language information for additional details.

Here is a PDF of the bill as enacted, and this site will link to the online statute when available. 

Scams Affecting Businesses

Vermont businesses regularly report scams, including utility disconnection threats, unsolicited/fake invoices, fake orders of goods or services, imposters of business personnel, and IRS debt collection scams. It is important that businesses establish internal processes to ensure any payments are being sent to valid sources!

Check out our Stopping Scams page for more information.

Security Breaches

Security Breach Info

If your business suffers a security breach, you must notify the Attorney General within 14 days of discovery and the affected customers within 45 days of discovery. You can notify the Attorney General via email to AGO.DataSecurity@vermont.gov or by telephone 802-828-5479. There are a handful of additional requirements and we are happy to walk you through them.

Download the #WhatTheHack presentation from Tech Jam on 10/20/2017. Here is the complete Vermont Security Breach Notice Act.

Small Business Loans

There are an increasing number of commercial loans available to Vermont businesses. A number of commercial lenders offer "quick loans" or "EZ cash" via the internet (or use spam email, pop-up ads, or text messages). In some instances, the company may be soliciting commercial loans on behalf of a lender.  Here in Vermont, commercial lenders and loan solicitors are required to be licensed, or otherwise exempt from licensure AND must clearly state rates, terms, and conditions. Here is information on how to protect yourself from illegal loans.

Social Media Privacy (effective 1/1/18)

Employees are under no obligation to share their personal, social media accounts with their employers. Employers cannot require employees or job applicants to: access social media accounts in front of them, “friend” or “follow” them, or adjust account privacy settings in order to make posts publicly visible. Employers can require social media access that is mandated by law and for certain bona fide investigations. Here is the complete statute.

Unsolicited Merchandise Protection

Open Box

If you received a product you did not order, you can refuse the delivery or dispose of the product without obligation to the seller. Conversely, if you receive a document that looks like a bill, invoice, or statement of account due, but is really just an offer to sell goods or services, then we want to hear about it.

Here is the complete Unsolicited Merchandise statute.

Vermont Origins

Vermont Foliage

To qualify as a Vermont product, your item needs to be produced in-state with materials from Vermont and your company must have a substantial presence in the state. Vermont company names are permitted on non-Vermont products if they are accompanied by specified disclosures, so that consumers understand what they are buying. We encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to contact us with questions to assure fairness, compliance and accuracy in promoting brands and products.

Here is the complete Vermont Origins rule (see CP120).

 

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