Rhode Island Employment Law: What Does The Law Say?


Like all other states, Rhode Island employment law prohibits the discrimination of various groups of people either prior to employment or after they have been hired. Now some employers may argue that if they were discriminating against someone, they would have never hired them in the first place. Well as an example, you may have hired someone and then found out that they were a certain religion you were not in favor of, or were HIV positive!

rhode island employment law

Rhode Island Employment Law: Discrimination Laws

Under Rhode Island state law the following groups of people are protected against discrimination; someone age forty or over, someone with physical or mental disabilities, someone with AIDS or HIV positive, gender, someone who is pregnant, childbirth or related medical condition, someone because of their race or color, someone for religious beliefs or creed, someone for their sexual orientation, someone for genetic testing information, someone who was the victim of domestic abuse, or someone for gender identity or expression.

Yes, an employer can hire an individual they feel is the best fit for the job, but it is illegal to discriminate against them. As you can see with the long list of the various groups of people that are protected, eventually everyone will fit into one of these groups. Therefore, under Rhode Island employment law it is wise to make sure your employee handbook clearly states your position on discrimination. However, just stating your position doesn't protect you against someone filing a claim. Typically, someone is going to base their claim on an action you took, or a reckless statement you made.

Rhode Island employment law does cover drug testing, but it can get very complicated. Unless you fall under a federal regulation, my recommendation would be to seriously consider not getting involved in this one. Some exceptions to this would be if your business involves dangerous equipment or the transportation of passengers. In this case, you may be mandated by federal law to have a policy and testing program in place and included in your employee handbook. If you do, make sure it complies with Rhode Island and federal law. As with any of the information in this article, employment laws can change very rapidly and you are strongly recommended to verify any information provided with a legal professional.

Regarding the payment of final paychecks, Rhode Island employment law states that whether an employee quits or is terminated they must be paid no later than by the next payday. If your business offers vacation pay you may be required to pay that out, but there are some stipulations, such as the employee would have to be employed more than one year. In addition, your vacation benefits would have to be in writing. Remember to verify any statements made with an employment attorney. In addition, most employee handbook software programs also do a great job of complying with most state laws. Ultimately though, it is your responsibility to insure you are complying.

Rhode Island employment law also allows for Continuation of Group Health Insurance Plans offered by any employer. However, because the laws change so quickly I am not going to go in much detail. Just know that if you offer Group Health Insurance to your employees you will be subject to this requirement. Although it is a good law, it will require you to administer the plan. Just another word of advice to make sure all your employment policies are fully covered in your employment handbook. If you don't have a handbook, I would strongly advise having an employment attorney produce one for you or utilize a reputable employee handbook software program to assist you.

I can't stress enough that this is an article to make you aware of Rhode Island employment law and not to act as legal advice in any way. For legal advice you must see, or visit with an employment attorney. Employment law can change every time a court ruling comes down or any other enacted law becomes effective.

Thank you and may God Bless you!

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