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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

  • Nov, 20, 2019: Lawsuit Settled Against Harmony Fire District Over Alleged Sex-Discriminatory Firings
  • Oct, 02, 2019: Settlement Reached in Discrimination Suit Against Newport Grand Casino
  • Jul, 11, 2018: ACLU Sues Newport Grand Casino for Sex Discrimination

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

Medical Marijuana Employment (H 5759, S 615) Died in Committee
Category: 2019    Workplace Rights    

While current Rhode Island law prohibits employment discrimination based upon a medical marijuana patient’s status as a cardholder, some employers have claimed that they can fire or not hire a cardholder who tests positive for marijuana on a drug test. The ACLU filed a successful lawsuit on behalf of a Rhode Island resident facing this exact issue, but some employers still make that discredited argument. Legislation introduced by Representative Scott Slater and by Senator Dawn Euer would have clarified the law once and for all and would have ensured that a positive drug test cannot become a roundabout way of firing or refusing to employ a patient who is lawfully using medical marijuana. This legislation died in committee in both chambers.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Category: 2019    Workplace Rights    

During last year’s legislative session, the ACLU was highly supportive of Representative Teresa Tanzi’s special legislative commission to study sexual harassment in the workplace and the package of legislation that arose from it. We support the reintroduction of the legislation, which was never brought to the House floor for a vote. 

Among other things, the bills amend the definition of “employee” to include volunteers and unpaid interns (H 5346, introduced by Representative Tanzi), expand the statute of limitations for employees who have been victims of workplace misconduct (H 5341, introduced by Representative Evan Shanley), and explicitly provide the Human Rights Commission the jurisdiction to investigate sexual harassment complaints which originate from within the State House (H 5439, introduced by  Representative Camille Vella-Wilkinson, and S 460, introduced by Senator Gayle Goldin). We testified in favor of the entire package of legislation. The other bills in this package are H 5340, H 5342, H 5343, H 5345, and its Senate companion bill S 598, and H 5361. We additionally supported S 330, introduced by Senator Sandra Cano, which would have expanded worker protections and would have required workplace sexual harassment trainings. 

H 5340 and H 5341 passed out of the House but died in the Senate. S 330 passed the Senate but died in the House. Unfortunately, the other pieces of legislation died in committee.