The Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age (40 years of age and older), or country of ancestral origin ( RI Gen. Laws Sec. 28-5-1 et seq.). The law applies to all public employers and to private employers with four or more employees, including employment agencies and labor unions.
Criminal convictions. The law specifically prohibits employers from asking (on an application form or otherwise) whether an applicant has ever been arrested or charged with a crime. Employers are also prohibited from asking whether an applicant has been convicted of any crime (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 28-5-7(7)). There are exceptions if a federal or state law prohibits the hiring of a person based on a conviction for specified offenses or if a bond is required for the position and a criminal conviction would disqualify an applicant. In those circumstances, employers may inquire only about the specified offenses.
The law expressly permits employers to inquire about a criminal conviction during or after a job applicant's first interview.
Like the federal law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII), the Rhode Island Act prohibits employers from making any decision regarding hiring, discharge, advancement, compensation, or any other action based on one of the protected characteristics. Retaliation against employees who file discrimination complaints or participate in the investigation or hearing of discrimination claims is also prohibited.
Bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception. It is permissible to ...