The Vermont Judiciary has adopted this policy and these procedures regarding persons with disabilities.

I. Purpose

The Vermont Supreme Court hereby establishes the following policy and procedures for the Judicial Branch regarding the treatment of persons with disabilities by all judicial officers, managers, supervisors, employees and volun­teers of the Judiciary, and all other persons who use court facilities, including court officers, attorneys, law enforcement officers, probation and parole officers, contractors, and vendors.

II. Policy

Discrimination against persons with disabilities violates individuals' basic civil rights, under­mines the integrity of the court system and the work place, and adversely affects the equal administration of justice. In addition, discrimination against persons with disabilities is prohibited by law.

The Judiciary supports the right of all persons, including those with disabilities, to have equal opportunity to hold employment in or enjoy access to the facilities and services offered by the Judicial Branch. It is the policy of the Judiciary to maintain a court atmos­phere free of discrimination against persons with disabilities, including removing any physical, architectural, or communication barriers that would result in such discrimination, and providing reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities to ensure equal opportunity to court employment and services.

All employees will be expected to comply with this policy and take appropriate affirmative measures to ensure that discrimination against persons with disabilities does not occur. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against any employee who violates this policy, up to and including immediate dismissal.

Each judicial officer, manager, and supervisor within the Judiciary is responsible for providing a work place free from discrimination against persons with disabilities. This duty includes ensuring discussion of this policy with all employees and educating them concerning its application.

This policy applies to all employees of the Judiciary, whether compen­sated by the state or county, its offices, departments and subdivisions, and includes all temporary, permanent and contractual employees, court officers, applicants for employment and volunteers. It also applies to attorneys, litigants, and members of the public who use court facilities and who are alleged to have discriminated against persons with disabilities in regard to court employment or services.

III. Definitions

A. Person with a Disability

A person with a disability is:

  1. A person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits that person in some major life activity, such as walking, speaking, breathing, seeing, hearing, learning, working, or performing manual tasks.
  2. A person with a record of such a physical or mental impairment.
  3. A person who is regarded as having such an impairment.

Examples of disabilities covered by this policy include contagious and non-contagious diseases and conditions such as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, HIV disease (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addition and alcoholism.

Examples of conditions not covered under this policy include minor, non-chronic conditions of short duration, such as a sprain, common cold, infection or broken limb; sexual behavior disorders, sexual orientation, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, or current use of illegal drugs.

B. Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that enable a qualified individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy the benefits of employment with or the services of the Vermont Judicial Branch.

Examples of reasonable accommodation include auxiliary aids and services for persons with hearing impairments, such as qualified interpreters, note takers, transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening devices, assistive listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, TTD's, or video text displays; and auxiliary aids and services for the visually impaired, such as qualified readers, taped texts, audio recordings, brailed materials, or large print materials.

In determining what type of auxiliary aid and service is necessary, primary consideration shall be given to the request of the individual with disabilities.

IV. Dissemination, Education and Training

All employees, permanent and temporary, and other affected persons shall be informed of this policy and the Judiciary's commitment to a work place free of discrimination against persons with disabilities.

This policy statement and any supporting documents shall be included in all orientation material, programs and informational packets.

The Court Administrator shall ensure that all judicial officers, managers and supervisors are trained to administer this policy, to respond to complaints brought to their attention and to rectify situations that create an environment which is discriminatory against persons with disabilities.

The Court Administrator shall ensure that all employees are informed of the procedure for reporting an incident of discrimination against persons with disabilities.

Each judicial officer, manager, supervisor and employee is personally responsible for ensuring that his or her conduct does not discriminate against persons with disabilities, and is responsible for cooperating in any investigation of alleged discrimination against persons with disabilities if requested to do so by the person conducting the investigation.

V. Complaint Procedure

The following procedures have been developed to ensure that complaints are investigated quickly in a manner that is fair to all. All employees are encouraged to report any incidents of discrimination against persons with disabilities. Complaints will be promptly responded to and every effort will be made to resolve all complaints as quickly as possible.

An individual who believes he or she may be the victim of such behavior and wishes to discuss the situation prior to making the complaint should contact his or her supervisor, the program manager, the Judicial Branch Personnel Officer, the Director of Trial Court Administration, or the Director of Administrative Services as soon as possible, who shall be available to meet with the individual, if requested, to discuss the situation and to provide information regarding discrimination against persons with disabilities, reasonable accommodation and the complaint procedure.

A. Complaints Concerning Employment with the Judicial Branch

Complaints of discrimination against persons with disabilities who are currently employed by or are seeking employment with the Judicial Branch shall be referred to the supervisor of the position, the program manager, or the Judicial Branch Personnel Officer. All complaints shall be reported to the Judicial Branch Personnel Officer. A confidential investigation shall be made within forty-eight hours and shall be concluded within ten days. If there are reasonable grounds to believe that discrimination against persons with disabilities has occurred, remedies shall be undertaken to correct the situation as soon as practicable. The complainant shall be informed in a timely manner of the progress of the complaint, the investigation, and the action taken in response. The Judicial Branch Personnel Officer shall be responsible for establishing and maintaining files of founded complaints of discrimination against persons with disabilities in the area of employment.

If the complainant is a current Judicial Branch employee and is dissatisfied with the outcome, the complainant may grieve that action by filing a formal Step II grievance under Part VIII, Section A. of the Judicial Branch Personnel Policy.

B. Complaints Concerning Access to Services

In those instances where a complaint is made regarding access to court services, the complaint shall be made to any of the following: the presiding judge, clerk or program manager, the Director of Trial Court Administration, or the Director of Administrative Services. All complaints shall be reported to the Director of Administrative Services. A confidential investigation shall be made within forty-eight hours and shall be concluded within ten days. If there are reasonable grounds to believe that discrimination against persons with disabilities has occurred, remedies shall be undertaken to correct the situation as soon as practicable. The complainant shall be informed in a timely manner of the progress of the complaint, the investigation, and the action taken in response. The Director of Administrative Services shall be responsible for establishing and maintaining files of founded complaints of discrimination against persons with disabilities in the area of access to services.

If management initiates disciplinary action against any employee found to be responsible for discrimination against persons with disabilities, the employee will be afforded full grievance rights under the Judicial Branch Personnel Policy.

VI. Confidentiality

All actions taken to investigate and resolve complaints through this procedure shall be conducted with as much confidentiality as possible with­out compromising the thoroughness of the investigation. This complaint procedure is designed to encourage the reporting of all incidents of discrimination against persons with disabilities as well as to protect the reputation of any employee wrongfully charged with such conduct. Employees shall be informed that if the employer has to defend any action taken because of a complaint, confident­iality cannot be guaranteed.

VII. No retaliation for filing a complaint

Any intimida­tion, retaliation or inter­ference for filing a complaint or assisting in an investiga­tion is prohibited, will not be tolerated, and will result in a sanction similar to those imposed for discrimination against persons with disabilities.

VIII. Not exclusive remedy

The use of this procedure does not preclude any victim of discrimination from pursuing any other legal remedy. To explore other remedies, employees, applicants, and users of court services may also contact the Human Rights Commission at 120 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont, 05602, the Attorney General's Office at 109 State Street, Montpelier, Vt., or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.