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Workplace Rights

The workplace is where most adults spend roughly half their waking hours.  The ACLU is committed to protecting basic rights of employees in the workplace, and has a long history promoting those rights through legislation, litigation and public advocacy.

Workplace Rights in the News

  • Jul, 11, 2018: ACLU Sues Newport Grand Casino for Sex Discrimination
  • Jan, 30, 2018: ACLU Says New East Greenwich Social Media Policy Violates Town Employees’ First Amendment Rights
  • Dec, 08, 2017: Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Involving Rhode Island’s Public Breastfeeding Law

View All Workplace Rights Related News Releases »

Workplace Rights Related Court Cases

2018: Borrelli v. Premier Entertainment II, LLC.
Category: Active Case    Civil Rights    Discrimination    Gender Discrimination    Women's Rights    Workplace Rights    

About This Case:
This is a sex and age discrimination lawsuit against the Newport Grand Casino on behalf of Paula Borrelli, a female employee, who claims that, for a decade, she has been paid significantly less than a younger male employee performing the same duties in the same position.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in July 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
Lynette Labinger

Supporting Documents
2017: Brady v. Tamburini
Category: Active Case    Fair Administration of Justice    Free Speech    Open Government    Police Practices    Workplace Rights    

About This Case:
This is a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Johnston Police Department on behalf of retired Detective James Brady, an 18-year veteran of the force.  The suit argues that Johnston Police Chief Richard Tamburini violated Brady’s free speech rights by disciplining him after he spoke to the news media about a matter of public concern.

Current Status:
Suit filed in October 2017.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
John W. Dineen

Supporting Documents

Related Legislation

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (H 8276, H 8278, H 8279) DIED
Category: 2018    Workplace Rights    

A package of legislation developed as part of Rep. Teresa Tanzi's commission to study sexual harassment in the workplace could have had important and long-lasting effects. The ACLU testified in support of the entire package of legislation in June, but a few bills are especially worth highlighting. H 8276 would have extended from one year to two years the time frame to bring forward charges of unlawful employment practices, giving victims the time necessary to prepare for an investigation. H 8278 would have prohibited employers from requiring new employees to sign non-disparagement or other agreements barring them from talking about civil rights violations or other unlawful conduct. Such a provision is critical to help bring sexual harassment to light, and to allow victims to speak freely about their experiences without fear of retribution. Finally, H 8279 would have expanded the definition of employee to clarify that volunteers and unpaid interns were protected under the law. Despite the strength of the #MeToo movement and the clear need for such protections in Rhode Island, the House failed to bring any of these bills to a vote.

State Contract Computer Hours Verification (H 7788, S 2660) DIED
Category: 2018    Workplace Rights    

Imagine that while you're reading this, your computer is taking a screenshot every three minutes and uploading it to a website. Are you sure all your open tabs are things you want other people to see? Legislation (H 7788, S 2660under consideration this year would have required the use by certain state contractors of computer software that did just that. The software is to verify the hours worked on computers for that contract, but despite multiple hearings on this bill, it remained unclear how the goal of providing real time access to data could be reconciled with the bill's language stating the software "must not capture any data that is private or confidential on individuals."  The ACLU testified with concerns regarding these inherent privacy intrusions in the bill, and no action was taken on the legislation.

Equal Pay (H 7427A as amended, S 2475A as amended) Competing Versions Passed House and Senate
Category: 2018    Women's Rights    Workplace Rights    

Despite laws to the contrary, women nationwide earn on average just 77% of the wages earned by men, with that percentage dropping significantly for women of color. Legislation sponsored by Rep. Susan Donovan (H 7427) and Sen. Gayle Goldin (S 2475) aimed to address the issue in Rhode Island by making it easier for individuals facing wage differentials to file a civil action against their employer. The ACLU testified in support of this legislation. But the House and Senate differed on how to address the issue. While the ACLU supported the version passed by the Senate in April, the amended House version passed in June raised significant concerns, as it had provisions that actually weakened protections in existing state law. The Senate refused to vote on the House version, and both pieces of legislation died.

2017 Legislative Scorecard
Category: 2017    Workplace Rights    

2017 Legislative Scorecard

Note: The votes contained in this record were selected because the ACLU considers them some of the more important and representative civil liberties issues addressed by the R.I. General Assembly in 2017; they in no way cover every bill with civil liberties implications. In addition, a legislator’s leadership in committee or on the floor cannot be accurately reflected on a voting chart such as this; it is designed only to provide information as to how legislators voted on some key civil liberties issues in the 2017 legislative session. If you are concerned about your legislator’s vote on a particular issue, you are encouraged to contact him or her for an explanation. A revised 2017-2018 voting record will be issued at the end of this year’s session.