Discrimination Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases

Menu

Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years

Issues

Discrimination

Equality for all is one of the basic foundations of the United States, and the Rhode Island Affiliate strives to protect that right by fighting discrimination to ensure that all people are treated justly, no matter their race, sex, sexual orientation, economic status, disability, or any other protected status.

Discrimination in the News

May 5, 2015: ACLU Finds Increasing Racial Disparities In School Suspension Rates

Racial disparities in suspensions at Rhode Island’s schools reached their highest rates in a decade last year, according to a new report issued today by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island. The report, “Blacklisted: 2013-2014,” found that while white students experienced a ten-year low in suspensions during the 2013-2014 school year, the combined suspension rate for Hispanic, black and Native American students was at its highest level. According to the report, significant racial disparities were found in school districts across the state, began as early as elementary school, and affected black girls as well as boys.

April 8, 2015: ACLU Calls For In-Depth Investigation Of Pawtucket Police Department Traffic Stop Practices

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island is urging the Pawtucket Police Department to conduct an in-depth examination of some of its policies and procedures in light of “disturbing” allegations of racism among its officers described in a recent news article.

November 19, 2014: Rhode Island Arrest Data Shows Larger Racial Disparity Than In Ferguson, Missouri

Many police departments across Rhode Island disproportionately arrest black individuals at rates that eclipse the racial disparity of arrests found in Ferguson, Missouri, newly reported data shows. Data reported by USA Today demonstrates an extreme racial disparity in arrest rates in many communities across Rhode Island. In fact, the Rhode Island police departments that were analyzed arrested black individuals at rates up to 9.14 times higher than the rate for non-blacks, and all were greater than Ferguson’s 2.8 disparity rate. These disproportionate rates were present in communities of various size and demographics.

November 12, 2014: ACLU Files Suit Over Medical Marijuana Discrimination

The ACLU of Rhode Island has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a URI graduate student who was denied summer employment this year at a fabrics company because of her status as a registered medical marijuana user. The lawsuit argues that “a potential employer’s failure to hire a medical marijuana patient because of, or related to, his or her status as a medical marijuana user and/or cardholder” constitutes disability discrimination in violation of the RI Civil Rights Act, and also violates the medical marijuana law, which protects cardholders from discrimination in employment.

Take a look at our other news releases concerning discrimination »

Court Cases

Currently in the courts is Morales v. Chadbourne, a lawsuit on behalf of Ada Morales, a North Providence resident who has twice been detained as a deportable “alien” even though she is a U.S. citizen. The lawsuit alleges that federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and Rhode Island officials often bypass Constitutional requirements and safeguards when they detain individuals on immigration grounds.

Take a look at our other court cases concerning immigration rights »

Case Sheets

 

Gender Discrimination

Unfortunately women still face discrimination at work, in education, in athletics, and in many other spheres of our society.  The ACLU of Rhode Island works to ensure that women and girls see equal access to quality education, employment, housing, and health care without any consideration of gender bias or stereotypes.

Gender Discrimination in the News

July 19, 2013 - Statement on Enactment of Bill Allowing Sex Discrimination in School Extracurricular Activities

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, RI NOW, and the ACLU of Rhode Island issued a statement in response to Governor Lincoln Chafee’s decision not to veto a bill that authorizes public school districts to provide sex-segregated extracurricular activities of any kind.

View All Gender Discrimination Related News Releases »

Legislation

In 2013, the General Assembly will again consider a bill to bar insurance companies from using gender as a factor in determining health insurance rates.  Currently, women generally pay higher insurance rates than men of their same age, based solely on their gender.  This practice is barred under federal law beginning in 2014, but the bill will eliminate the practice immediately and permanently in Rhode Island.

 

LGBT Rights

On February 5, 2015, the ACLU of Rhode Island submitted testimony on proposed Department of Children, Youth and Families regulations designed to prohibit discrimination against and prevent harassment of LGBTQQI youth. The ACLU encouraged the Department to expand the scope of the regulations to cover areas beyond day-to-day interaction with youth, such as housing placement, searches, medical care, bathroom and shower facilities, and grooming rules. The ACLU did urge the department to revise a portion of the proposal that would punish youth "disrespectful" or "disparaging" statements. This is overly broad and raises constitutional concerns: The First Amendment simply does not allow the state to ban “disrespectful” or “disparaging” comments, no matter how worthy the goal. 

LGBT Rights in the News

Oct. 24, 2014: New Health Department Regulations Help Transgender Population

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island and Youth Pride Inc. commended the RI Department of Health for adopting new “vital records” regulations this week that will make it easier for transgender people to revise the gender designation on their birth certificate. 

View All LGBT Rights Related News Releases »

Legislation

After seventeen years, the ACLU was thrilled by the long-overdue passage of marriage equality legislation by the General Assembly.  Sponsored by Representative Art Handy (H 5015A) and Senator Donna Nesselbush (S 0038A), the legislation grants full marriage rights to all couples, regardless of their gender, who are otherwise eligible to marry. The bill also codifies Rhode Island’s recognition of marriages and civil unions from other states, and includes protections for those religious institutions that choose not to solemnize same-sex marriages.  Read our testimony before the House Judiciary committee. The ACLU of Rhode Island celebrated with its coalition partners on May 2, 2013 when the Governor officially made marriage equality the law of the land.

More Information

 

Racial/Ethnic Discrimination

Racial and ethnic discrimination have a long history in the United States, and the same is true for the Ocean State.  The ACLU of Rhode Island is committed to ensuring that racial and ethnic minorities are provided equal protection under the law.  In addition to our other work, the RI ACLU, along with more than a dozen other local organizations, continues to bring attention to the critical problem of racial profiling in the state of Rhode Island.

Racial/Ethnic Discrimination in the News

November 19, 2014: Rhode Island Arrest Data Shows Larger Racial Disparity Than In Ferguson, Missouri
Many police departments across Rhode Island disproportionately arrest black individuals at rates that eclipse the racial disparity of arrests found in Ferguson, Missouri, newly reported data shows. Data reported by USA Today demonstrates an extreme racial disparity in arrest rates in many communities across Rhode Island. In fact, the Rhode Island police departments that were analyzed arrested black individuals at rates up to 9.14 times higher than the rate for non-blacks, and all were greater than Ferguson’s 2.8 disparity rate. These disproportionate rates were present in communities of various size and demographics.
October 15, 2014: ACLU Statement In Response To “Rhode Island Traffic Stop Statistics Data Collection Study”
“Despite claims of improvement, the latest study of traffic stop data in Rhode Island presents the same old story: in most communities, racial minorities, as a percentage of the driving population, remain more likely than whites to be stopped by police. And once again we learn that, once stopped, racial minorities in most communities are more likely to be subject to discretionary searches, but less likely to be found with contraband. Every study conducted in Rhode Island, since the first one over a decade ago, has reached these same conclusions."

View All Racial/Ethnic Discrimination Related News Releases »

Legislation

The RI ACLU, along with more than thirty other local organizations and leaders, is working hard to address the rampant problem of racial profiling in the state of Rhode Island. For the past several years, the Coalition Against Racial Profiling, of which the ACLU is a lead member, has been working for the passage of the Comprehensive Racial Profiling Prevention Act. This crucial legislation, which passed out of the House Judiciary Committee for the first time in 2011, would standardize police practices in traffic stops and interaction with youth pedestrians, and resume required data collection in an effort to combat racial profiling in Rhode Island.