The Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age (40 years and over), or ancestry, unless such characteristics constitute a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), i.e., are necessary in order to perform the job in question.
In addition, employers are prohibited from printing or publishing any job notice or advertisement indicating a discriminatory preference, limitation, or specification, unless the preference, limitation, or specification is based on a BFOQ or federal affirmative action plan requirement. The law applies to all public employers and private employers with four or more employees (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 28-5-1 et seq.).
Note: Before advertising a position or selecting a candidate based on a BFOQ, an employer must receive a certification of the exception from the Rhode Island Human Rights Commission.
Disability discrimination. A separate Rhode Island law further prohibits discrimination in employment against otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities. The law applies to all persons or entities that receive state financial assistance or conduct business within the state (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 42-87-1 et seq.).