Rhode Island Sexual Harassment laws & HR compliance analysis

Rhode Island Sexual Harassment: What you need to know

The Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 28-5-1 et seq.). Employers with 50 or more employees must adopt a policy against sexual harassment (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 28-51-1). See Adoption of Workplace Policy and Statement in this section for details.
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Gender identity or expression. Gender identity or expression includes a person's actual or perceived gender, as well as a person's gender identity, gender-related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression, whether or not that gender identity, gender-related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression is different from that traditionally associated with the person's sex at birth.
Retaliation. The Act prohibits employers from retaliating against an individual because he or she has opposed any unlawful discriminatory practice, 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).
The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the activities of an employee who helped a coworker bring a harassment complaint to the employer's Human Resources department constituted protected activity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Collazo v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Mfg.,617 F.3d 39 (1st Cir. 2010)). The employee in this case was fired after he repeatedly helped a coworker in filing and pursuing her sexual harassment complaint with their employer's Human Resources department. Although the employer claimed it discharged the employee as part of a reorganization, the court ruled that the employee had provided sufficient evidence that ...

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