News and Alerts

Gender Discrimination: RI Federal Court: Paid Suspension Is Adverse Employment Action

Gender Discrimination: RI Federal Court: Paid Suspension Is Adverse Employment Action

In an August 16, 2017, decision, Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island declined to grant summary judgment (dismissal without a trial) in favor of an employer defending against a female employee’s gender discrimination and retaliation claims. Although the employer continued to pay the employee during a suspension, the court held that the suspension was punitive in nature, became part of her permanent employment record, and affected her ability to advance, find future employment, and gain valuable job experience.

City’s Winning Defense: PPD Sergeant was Undeserving and Disliked

A federal court in Rhode Island recently rejected a sergeant’s claim that the Providence Police Department’s (PPD) failure to promote him to lieutenant was illegally based on disability discrimination. The court found the employment decision was based in part on the chief of police’s conclusion that the sergeant was undeserving of the promotion and wasn’t well liked by his colleagues, which were legitimate reasons not to promote him.

Blowing A Whistle But Making No Sound: RN Did Not Report Illegal Acts

Joanne Chagnon was a registered nurse at Lifespan’s Miriam Hospital in Providence. She began working at the hospital in 1991 and was promoted four times. Her last review, in December 2014, was positive. As of February 2015, she supervised other nurses in two settings, a cardiovascular procedural care and endoscopy unit (PCU) and the cardiac catheterization and EP laboratory (cath lab).

Individual Liability: No Personal Liability for Managers, Supervisors in Rhode Island

For many years, supervisors and managers wondered if they could be personally liable when an employee sued his employer for discrimination. After much waiting, we have the answer! The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently endorsed the reasoning of other states, including California, and issued an emphatic “No.”

So breathe a sigh of relief, and carry on with your work.

Buyer Beware: You May be Liable for Seller’s Wage Law Violations

The Rhode Island federal court recently held that a buyer of an employer’s assets can be liable for the seller’s violations of federal and state wage laws, even if the buyer is a separate entity with distinct management and ownership from that of the seller. If the buyer continues the seller’s business operations, it should conduct careful due diligence and confirm that the seller will have sufficient assets after the sale to satisfy any lingering debts.

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