The Rhode Island Equal Pay Law prohibits discrimination in wages on the basis of sex (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 28-6-17 et seq.). The Law also prohibits employers from paying female employees salary or wage rates less than the rates paid to male employees for equal work or work on the same operations. Any contract or agreement that establishes an unlawful variation in pay based on gender is void and unenforceable.
Retaliation prohibited. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who has made a complaint, started a proceeding, testified or is about to testify, or otherwise exercised his or her rights under the Law (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 28-6-21).
The Equal Pay Law does not prohibit wage differentials that are based on:
• Seniority, experience, training, skill, or ability;
• Duties and services performed, either regularly or occasionally;
• Shift or time of day worked;
• Availability for other operations; or
• Any other reasonable differentiation except difference in sex.
The law applies to all employers in the state.
The Equal Pay Law is enforced by the Rhode Island director of labor or by private lawsuit in state court. Employers are liable for damages equal to twice the unpaid wage and criminal penalties in certain instances.