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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, 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
  • Nov, 21, 2016: ACLU Sues Fire District Over Sex-Discriminatory Firings

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Workplace Rights Related Court Cases

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
2014: Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Corporation
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Medical Marijuana    The "War on Drugs"    Workplace Rights    


About This Case:
This is a lawsuit on behalf of a URI graduate student who was denied summer employment as a paid intern at Darlington Fabrics in Westerly 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.

Current Status:
In May 2017, R.I. Superior Court Justice Richard Licht ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The ruling is being appealed.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
Carly Beauvais Iafrate

Supporting Documents

Related Legislation

Employer Liability (S 773)
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.