Rhode Island Hiring laws & HR compliance analysis

Rhode Island Hiring: What you need to know

Discrimination. The Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits hiring practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or ancestry, unless the characteristic is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) (R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-5-1 et seq.). The Act applies to all public employers and to private employers with four or more employees.
With limited exceptions, employers may not discriminate against medical marijuana patients (R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28.6-4(c)).
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BFOQ exception. According to guidelines issued by the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights, employers may rely on the BFOQ exception when hiring only if a particular characteristic has been certified as a BFOQ by the Commission or adjudged to be one by a state or federal court as a result of litigation.
Veterans’ preference. A private employer may adopt a policy to provide preference in hiring to veterans which must be in writing and uniformly applied to employment decisions (R.I. Gen. Laws § 30-21-14). In public employment, veterans receive preference in hiring (R.I. Gen. Laws § 30-21-8).
Criminal history. The Act specifically prohibits employers from asking (on an application form or otherwise) whether an applicant has ever been arrested or charged with a crime. In addition, employers are also prohibited from asking whether an applicant has been convicted of any crime (R.I. Gen. Laws § 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 ...

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