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Rhode Island Paid Sick and Safe Time Rules Raise as Many Questions as They Answer

On May 11, 2018, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training finalized regulations concerning the state’s mandatory paid sick and safe time law,1 the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act (HSFWA). The regulations clarify some issues like business size and pay rate calculations and fill some gaps left by the enacting statutes. Yet the regulations fail to provide sufficient clarification on certain issues and interpret some more common provisions in a novel way that may leave employers scratching their heads.

A Tale of Two Judges: Lack of Binding Precedent on Arbitration Agreements Causes Uncertainty for Rhode Island Employers

Can two judges on the same court reach contradictory conclusions about the enforceability of the same arbitration agreement presented to two employees in the same manner? In Rhode Island, the answer is yes, as the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island’s recent decisions in Conduragis v. Prospect CharterCARE, LLC and Britto v. St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island demonstrate. These decisions underscore the leeway that trial courts in Rhode Island have when ruling on the enforceability of arbitration agreements—and the resulting uncertainty that employers face when drafting such agreements.

Puerto Rico Secretary of Labor and Human Resources Issues New Guidelines Governing Payment of the Christmas Bonus

The Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (“PR DOL”) has issued a new regulation, effective October 18, 2017, to administer Puerto Rico’s Christmas Bonus Law, Act. No. 148 of June 30, 1969. The new regulation, which supersedes all prior regulations on the subject, includes guidance on implementation of the Christmas Bonus Law, as amended by the Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act, Act No. 4 of January 26, 2017 (“LTFA”).

Rhode Island Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law

Rhode Island has joined the growing list of states and municipalities that have enacted paid sick leave laws. Under the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act, signed by Governor Gina Raimondo, employers with at least 18 employees must provide their employees with paid sick leave. The new law goes into effect July 1, 2018.

Rhode Island Enacts Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law

Rhode Island's governor has signed a new paid sick and safe leave law that takes effect July 1, 2018.

Rhode Island Employees May Soon Be Entitled to Paid Sick Time

On September 19, 2017, the Rhode Island General Assembly approved a bill that would require, with limited exception, all Rhode Island employers with 18 or more employees to provide their employees with paid sick time. The bill is in response to Governor Gina Raimondo’s call during her State of the State address in January for such legislation, and she has indicated she intends to sign the bill into law.

Rhode Island Court Gives Assignability of Employee Non-Competes a Haircut

Last month, a Rhode Island trial court held that a hairdresser’s noncompetition agreement with the salon for which she had been working, which sold its assets to a successor salon, was not transferable to the successor business because the noncompetition agreement lacked an assignability clause.

Positive No More: Rhode Island Employers Need to Think Twice Before Denying Employment Based on a Positive Drug Test

In a recently issued trial court decision, Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Corp., a Rhode Island Superior Court justice held that an employer could not deny employment to an applicant licensed under state law to possess and consume medical marijuana solely because the applicant would be unable to pass a mandatory pre-employment drug test. The decision, which granted the applicant summary judgment against the employer, recognizes—for the first time in Rhode Island—a private right of action for medical marijuana “cardholders” to seek damages for discrimination on account of their status as medical marijuana patients by schools, landlords, and employers. Employers with Rhode Island operations may want to reevaluate their drug testing procedures going forward as a result of this decision.

Rhode Island Superior Court Rules on Job Applicant's Medical Marijuana Use

In a case of first impression in the state, the Rhode Island Superior Court recently ruled an employer is prohibited from refusing to hire a prospective employee because the employee would potentially fail a pre-employment drug test due to the employee’s use of medical marijuana. In Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics and the Moore Company, the court held the state’s Hawkins-Slater Medical Marijuana Act (the “Medical Marijuana Act”), which prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana users, also protects the cardholder’s actual use of marijuana. Even though using marijuana is still illegal under federal law, the court held that employers that refuse to hire card-carrying prospective employees due to their use of medical marijuana may be subject to liability under the Medical Marijuana Act.

Employer’s Refusal to Hire Medical Marijuana User Violates State Law, Rhode Island State Court Holds

Employers cannot refuse to hire a medical marijuana cardholder, even if the individual admittedly would not pass the employer’s pre-employment drug test required of all applicants, a Rhode Island state court has held under the state medical marijuana law. Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Corp., et al., No. PC-2014-5680 (R.I. Super. Ct., May 23, 2017). The court granted summary judgment to the plaintiff-applicant.