News and Alerts
The U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Rhode Island employers) recently upheld a six-figure jury award for a firefighter’s “sex-plus” discrimination claim, ruling that federal antidiscrimination law extends protections to gay and lesbian workers in cases where they claim discrimination based on both their gender and sexual orientation.
The ruling, Franchina v. City of Providence, contributes to a widening division among federal courts about whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin—covers discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) is a “no-ask” law that will become effective on July 1, 2018. California, Delaware, New York City, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and San Francisco also recently enacted no-ask laws. Rhode Island employers may need to change their hiring practices—including job applications, interviews, background checks, and the process of making initial compensation offers—in order to comply with these new state and local laws.
Djamel Ouadani worked as a delivery driver for a vendor of Dynamex, a delivery company. Although he was paid by the vendor, he wore Dynamex clothing while working, and Dynamex controlled his hours, rate of pay, and other working conditions such as delivery times.
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.
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.
In February 2017, Rhode Island legislators proposed a bill that would require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. Prior to their summer recess, the house and senate passed different versions of the bill (House Bill 5413 and Senate Bill 290).
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).
The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a final sick time bill, to be effective July 1, 2018. It is expected that Governor Raimondo will sign the bill into law.
Michael J. Beagan worked as a delivery driver for a transportation company for several years. The events that led to his termination arose after the company implemented a new accident policy.
In June 2014, Christine Callaghan applied for a summer internship at Darlington Fabrics Corporation. During the hiring process, Callaghan signed a “Fitness for Duty Statement,” which acknowledged that she would need to complete a pre-employment drug test.
The U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Rhode Island employers) recently affirmed summary judgment (dismissal without a trial) in favor of an employer on a claim that it failed to accommodate an employee’s disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
We successfully defended a prominent local retail chain which was accused of underreporting and underpaying sales tax to the State of Rhode Island in violation of Rhode Island’s False Claims Act.