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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

  • Oct, 11, 2017: ACLU Sues Johnston Police Department for Violating First Amendment Rights of Former Detective
  • Jul, 06, 2017: ACLU and RI Legal Services File Civil Rights Complaint Against RIDLT
  • May, 23, 2017: Court Issues Major Ruling Protecting Medical Marijuana Patients From Discrimination

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Workplace Rights Related Court Cases

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
2016: Perreault v. Harmony Fire District / Ferragamo v. Harmony Fire District
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Gender Discrimination    Women's Rights    Workplace Rights    


About These Cases:
These are two separate lawsuits on behalf of two female EMT/firefighters who were terminated from their jobs at the Harmony Fire District after they raised concerns about unequal treatment of male and female firefighters. Both women were EMT/firefighters for the Harmony Fire District for more than a decade. Ms. Perreault was terminated in January 2015 for purportedly being “unhappy” with the fire department and Ms. Ferragamo was terminated in August 2015 after raising concerns about gender discrimination. Notably, none of the male firefighters who raised concerns about equal treatment of male and female employees were disciplined or terminated.

Current Status:
Lawsuits filed in December 2016.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
Lynette Labinger, Sonja Deyoe

Supporting Documents

Related Legislation

Employer Liability (S 773) DIED
Category: 2017    Workplace Rights    

This legislation, supported by the ACLU, was introduced by Senator Frank Lombardi in direct response to a recent RI Supreme Court decision narrowly interpreting the state’s Fair Employment Practices Act, which concluded that, as currently written, state law does not provide for individual liability against an employee who engages in discriminatory conduct in the workplace. The bill would amend FEPA to clarify that such liability does exist. No further action was taken on this legislation after it was heard.