The Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits an employer from using an application form with questions that directly or indirectly ask about an applicant's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or country of ancestral origin unless the characteristic is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) certified by the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 28-5-7(4)(iii)). The law covers employers with four or more employees.
Retaliation prohibited. The Act prohibits employers from discriminating against any person who has opposed an unlawful discriminatory practice or who has made a charge, testified, or assisted in any manner in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the Act (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 28-5-7(5)).
An employer may make an employment inquiry about one of the characteristics listed above only if the BFOQ has been certified by the Rhode Island Human Rights Commission. Generally, a BFOQ must be reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the employer's business and absolutely essential to the applicant's ability to perform the job. For example, being female would be a legitimate BFOQ for a person applying for a job as a model of women's clothing. The BFOQ exception applies only in limited circumstances, and in general, courts have been extremely reluctant to sanction otherwise discriminatory practices on BFOQ grounds. Employers should use caution in relying on the BFOQ rationale and should always consult with legal counsel before making any inquiries based on a BFOQ.
Employers are prohibited from ...