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Rhode Island Employment Law Blog

Coronavirus & Employment: Novel Questions for FMLA and ADA

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. With this declaration, novel questions of employment law have been brought to the forefront. Many employers are wondering what actions are legal during this pandemic, whereas many employees are wondering whether their time-off is covered under any federal or state law.

When is an employment termination wrongful?

A person's employment can be terminated for a wide range of reasons. A job termination can sometimes be justifiable under the law, even if an employer did not give the employee a reason for the termination of their job. However, there are also certain situations in which an employment termination could be wrongful. In a situation such as this, the employee who has lost their job may be able to file a wrongful termination claim and gain damages as a result.

If you have recently lost your job in Rhode Island, you may be wondering whether you can file a wrongful termination claim. Before filing such a claim, take the time to understand the law and reflect on the circumstances surrounding your employment termination. The following is an overview of situations in which an employment termination is typically considered wrongful.

Workplace conflict and a gender discrimination complaint

Let us say that you were recently hired as the assistant to the strength coach in the athletics department of a small college in New England. You are the first woman to hold that position.

You get along well with the coach, who hired you, but conflict between you and the athletic director developed quickly, and this makes you uncomfortable. Is gender discrimination involved?

Non-Compete Agreements

Non-compete agreements are usually part of an employment contract or presented upon separation. These agreements prohibit an employee from working for a competitor or engaging in a related business after that employee is separated from his/her employer. A non-compete agreement will, generally, define the period of time for which the agreement will be enforced, limit the prior employee from engaging in certain activities with another employer, and provide a geographic restriction upon the employee. Historically, corporate executives, top sales representatives, and creative personnel were often required to sign non-compete agreements. However, today, employers require employees in various fields to sign non-compete agreements.

How can you prove promotion discrimination?

When your employer does not choose you for a promotion, it can be disheartening and discouraging. It is even worse when it is a discriminatory choice. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that it is unlawful for an employer to make promotion decisions because of race, religion, sex, disability, national origin or genetic information. 

If you are a victim of promotion discrimination, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer. Here are some pieces of evidence that are helpful in these cases. 

Steps to take when facing workplace sexual harassment

If you experience sexual harassment at your job, you do not need to put up with it. Sexual harassment is unlawful behavior. There are laws that protect you from sexual harassment in the workplace, including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Rhode Island even has its own protection for workers that requires employers to enact a sexual harassment policy.

You have the full right to confront sexual harassment. There is no reason to simply tolerate harassment and be quiet about it. Here are some of your options for dealing with inappropriate conduct at your job.

Hourly v. Salary Pay

When accepting a job offer, or even a promotion, you need to understand the differences between being compensated on an hourly versus on a salary basis. Both payment methods offer their own individual benefits to an employee and have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on the employee's circumstances.

Are you concerned about over-40 severance agreement terms?

Perhaps you are 45 years old, and you are leaving a company where you worked as a member of senior management.

Your employer must draft the severance agreement properly, and there are special requirements for employees like you who are age 40 and older. Do you have questions about terms and the validity of the agreement overall?

Government Shutdown - The Effect on Federal Employees

The partial government shutdown, which started on December 22, 2018, has had many effects on federal employees. According to CBS News, as a result of the government shutdown, approximately 380,000 federal employees have been furloughed - a temporary leave of absence without pay. The Senate Appropriations Committee estimates that the estimated 380,000 furloughed employees include about 86% of Department of Commerce employees, roughly 96% of NASA employees, about 52,000 IRS workers and approximately 95% of Housing and Urban Development employees.

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