Rhode Island Employment Law Blog

3 questions to ask if you believe you were wrongfully terminated

Working in Rhode Island means you work for an at-will employer. Though there are federal laws in place to offer protection against unlawful terminations, many people find themselves in the unemployment line after developing medical issues that interfere with their ability to show up and perform their jobs. 

If you feel you were wrongfully terminated because of attendance issues related to your health, you might have a wrongful termination claim. Dealing with unemployment and health issues can bring about a great deal of stress and lead to confusion. Here are a few questions to consider if you feel your employer wrongfully fired you due to your health:

3 steps to take after facing sexual harassment at work

There are few experiences more harrowing and disheartening than encountering sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment can take the form of inappropriate comments, sexual propositions or unwelcome touching. You are trying to earn a living and further your career, but a colleague's untoward advances can jeopardize this and make it difficult to do your job. What do you do when this happens?

This is unfair, but luckily, there is recourse following such an incident. The following three tips are the steps you should take immediately after any instance of sexual harassment. Though it is demoralizing, be proactive in protecting yourself from any further harassment by following these steps.

Employees and medical marijuana prescriptions

The use of medical marijuana has increased over the last few years. This increase has caused some shifting in a few different arenas, including employment.

An understanding of the law may help people prevent or fight discrimination from a current or potential employer. Employees should be aware of a few key aspects.

Help for those affected by an unfair workplace policy

A previous post on this blog discussed how a workplace rule can in some cases be discriminatory. For instance, if the effect of the rule is to single out people of a certain religious persuasion, race, etc., then an employee who wound up being injured by the rule can seek compensation and other relief.

Unfortunately, though, proving discrimination can be a hard thing to prove. For example, in the case of a controversial workplace rule, an employer will usually be able to give some reason why their rules are important to workplace safety or the orderly operation of their business.

Workplace rules can be grounds for a discrimination claim

A recent story that attracted national news attention may be of interest to Rhode Island employees who feel that their employers impose rules and other practices that violate the moral and religious principles. After all, what might seem on the surface like a well-reasoned rule may, particularly if it is applied without any flexibility, be the grounds for a religious discrimination or other workplace discrimination claim.

In another state recently, the federal government sued a nursing home, alleging that the home had committed unlawful religious discrimination. Perhaps because it deals with sick, elderly patients, the home required all employees to get a flu vaccine. One employee objected, saying that doing so would violate her deeply held religious beliefs about the human body.

Peace of mind is important when it comes to compensation

Although the law of Rhode Island requires employers in this state to pay employees the cash compensation to which the employer agreed, many employers choose to also offer other forms of compensation, the terms of which might not be so clear cut.

For example, as this blog has reported on previous occasions, many employers offer incoming executives stock options, generous retirement packages and other incentives to get them to come to work for the new employer, even if it means leaving a great position.

Measure would allow lawmakers to study sexual harassment

A Rhode Island lawmaker who herself was a victim of sexual harassment has introduced a legal measure that, if it passes, will form a group to review and study sexual harassment. Specifically, the group will examine both the most recent developments on the federal level as well as the laws and regulations of other states that are aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.

The idea behind the group would be to come up with solutions that would improve this state's response to harassment in the workplace. Indeed, this is an important opportunity, in the wake of the #metoo movement, for this state to do key work to improve the conditions of the women who work in this state.

Women in finance experience the biggest gender wage gap

The gender wage gap refers to the difference in pay women and men receive. Despite having the same qualifications, positions and tasks, women tend to earn less money than men do. This discrepancy in payment is an example of gender discrimination in the workplace.

How prevalent is this practice and where does it happen the most? Forbes shared a study from PayScale that reveals the industries with the largest pay gaps between men and women. At the top of the list was finance and insurance, at just over 29 percent.

The impact of workplace bullying

People usually hope that their work environments are peaceful and conducive to growth and advancement. Unfortunately, there may be some properties at work within the workplace that infringe upon an employee's rights.

This may fall under the classification for workplace bullying, and in such cases, it may be possible to seek rectification through a discrimination or harassment claim. When not addressed, such bullying can have a serious negative impact.

What constitutes adverse action in retaliation claims?

One fundamental tenant of this country's anti-discrimination laws is that an employee, whether in Rhode Island or elsewhere, has to feel free to report cases of discrimination when they see them. If they are afraid that doing so will cost them their jobs, then it is unlikely that discrimination will ever actually get reported or acted upon.

For this reason, laws protect those who report workplace discrimination from retaliation by their employer. What constitutes an activity that is "retaliation" is broad. It can include formal actions like getting fired or disciplined, and it can also include things that are less obvious like an unfavorable transfer or making changes to an employee's schedule.

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