On May 29, 2020, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of a lawsuit alleging a violation of the Rhode Island drug testing statute brought against an employer that terminated an employee for refusing to submit to a reasonable grounds drug test. Although there were multiple
Articles About Rhode Island Labor And Employment Law
Like many states, Rhode Island has enacted a statute that governs the use of drug tests in the employment context. Under Rhode Island’s drug-testing statute, R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-6.5-1(a)(1), an employer may require an employee to submit to a drug test only if it has “reasonable grounds to believe
The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against an employer who terminated an employee for refusing to submit to a reasonable suspicion drug test, even though the employee’s odd behaviors could have been attributable to pain or other things. Colpitts v. W.B. Mason Co., Inc., No.
With Phase 1 of the “Reopening RI” framework set to commence on May 9, 2020, certain non-critical businesses will be able to resume operations. A list of businesses eligible to reopen in Phase 1 is available here. On May 6, 2020, Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) released “Phase 1: General Business Guidelines” and draft regulations (subsequently promulgated on May 8, 2020) designed to assist businesses in complying with rules surrounding reopening. These guidelines apply to both businesses reopening and those critical infrastructure businesses continuing operations, with some limitations.
The recent outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has implications specific to Rhode Island employers. On March 9, 2020, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo declared a state of emergency. Four days later, on March 13, 2020, Governor Raimondo ordered all public schools closed for the week of March 16, 2020, and indicated she would revisit this order week-by-week.
Rhode Island has followed the recent trend of its neighboring states—including Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire1—by enacting a law that largely prohibits employers from entering into noncompete agreements with their employees. The Rhode Island Noncompetition Agreement Act, R.I. Gen. Laws 28-58-1, et seq. (the “Act”), creates a statutory scheme that is aimed at safeguarding the “bargaining power and mobility of low-wage workers” by limiting the enforcement of these agreements. The Act, however, vastly overextends its protections to prohibit noncompete agreements for many employees—not just low-wage workers.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Rhode Island legislation has created new burdens for employers. The Ocean State joins a growing number of states requiring employers to reasonably accommodate a worker’s condition related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition.
Rhode Island recently became the fifth state in 2014 and the 17th state nationwide to enact legislation restricting access by employers to applicants’ and employees’ personal online content.1 The Rhode Island law follows similar laws enacted this year by Wisconsin, Tennessee,2 Oklahoma, and Louisiana,3 continuing a nationwide trend that began in spring 2012. Rhode Island’s new law embodies many of the prohibitions seen in similar laws. However, in comparison to similar laws, the new law provides relatively narrow exceptions that allow employers to protect their legitimate business interest. In addition, the new law grants aggrieved individuals the right to file civil suits to recover damages, injunctive relief, and even reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Accordingly, Rhode Island employers should pay careful attention to the new law’s specific nuances to ensure compliance.
Rhode Island recently passed the Temporary Caregiver Insurance law which amended its Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program to provide employees with an additional leave benefit and wage replacement benefits during that leave. The law has two main components. First, all Rhode Island employers are required to provide at least four weeks of job-protected leave per year to employees to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent, or to bond with a newborn, adopted or foster child. Second, employees are eligible to receive payments through the TDI program while on leave. Rhode Island will join California and New Jersey as the only states that allow employees to receive state-sponsored short-term disability benefits even if the employee is not personally disabled.
Effective January 1, 2014, a recent amendment to Rhode Island law will restrict the timing of pre-employment inquiries by Rhode Island employers about a job applicant’s criminal past. Employers who are covered by the law may not inquire about an applicant’s prior criminal history until during or after the first interview with the applicant.