Rhode Island has a religious freedom law that bears some similarity to an Indiana proposal, that is now raising controversy around the country. Rhode Island’s law drew little criticism when it passed more than 20 years ago.

Rhode Island ACLU director Steve Brown said Rhode Island’s religious freedom law was passed with broad support in the early 1990s. Brown said the law was a response to a US Supreme Court decision denying the right of Native Americans to use peyote in religious ceremonies.

A pregnancy discrimination case before the US Supreme Court now hinges on legal language that’s open to interpretation. But two Rhode Island cities have written their own rules about pregnant workers.

Central Falls and Providence both passed city-wide ordinances earlier this year to protect pregnant workers from on-the-job discrimination. Women’s Fund of Rhode Island spokeswoman Shandi Hanna said employers in those cities must now give pregnant workers reasonable accommodations, like extra bathroom breaks or lighter duties. And that’s a trend she’d like to see continue.

The U.S. Justice Department is suing the state and the state corrections department, claiming employment discrimination. The Justice Department claims employment practices for hiring entry-level corrections officers violate the Civil Rights Act.

The lawsuit challenges the hiring practice at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections requiring applicants to take a written and video exam. The Justice Department claims that those exams do not help identify qualified candidates, but instead disproportionately screen out black and Hispanic candidates.

The Senate Education Committee will hear testimony today about whether schools should be allowed hold father-daughter dances.

The hearing comes after controversy in Cranston over a single mother who said her daughter was denied access to a dance. She wrote to the district charging the policy violates anti-discrimination laws. Cranston school officials responded by banning father-daughter dances, prompting community outcry.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Feb 1, 2013

A new poll shows less than half the state approves of the job being done by Governor Lincoln Chafee.  A Cranston Florist is being sued for discrimination. These stories and more on the RIPR Morning News Podcast.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.  news@ripr.org