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Rhode Island Background Check Laws

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Rhode Island Drug Screen Compliance

Rhode Island Employment Screening laws

Employers that are either located in Rhode Island or hiring Rhode Island residents must abide by the Federal FCRA, and applicable Rhode Island state employment laws.

This page was created to provide a simple explanation of what an end-user of a background screening report (also known as consumer report) can use in order to be in compliance with Rhode Island state laws. This page also contains steps an end-user must take to stay in compliance with Rhode Island state laws.

Please keep in mind that the EEOC must always be taken into consideration when a hiring decision is to be made. The EEOC has provided guidance on how employers can use criminal records during the hiring process. This regulation was issued on April 25, 2012. The EEOC requires employers to individually review each applicant or employee that may be disqualified due to a criminal record. This also follows the regulations set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additionally, the EEOC wants to undertake an adverse action process similar to that of the FCRA. They want to add a pre-adverse action process of their own. Although employers already have an adverse action process that is specific to information contained in consumer reports, the EEOC's adverse action process may be different.

The information that is provided on this page does not discuss requirements under the EEOC nor does it explain how to use criminal records that fall under the regulation of the EEOC. It is suggested that compliance with the EEOC be discussed with legal counsel.

For more detailed information on Rhode Island state laws, please consult your legal counsel.

Background Check Law Ban the Box Law Court Fee Summary of Rights

Employment Background Check Laws In Rhode Island:

Rhode Island General Laws §28-5-7: Unlawful employment practices.

It shall be an unlawful employment practice:

(1) For any employer:

(i) To refuse to hire any applicant for employment because of his or her race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin;

(ii) Because of those reasons, to discharge an employee or discriminate against him or her with respect to hire, tenure, compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, or any other matter directly or indirectly related to employment. However, if an insurer or employer extends insurance related benefits to persons other than or in addition to the named employee, nothing in this subdivision shall require those benefits to be offered to unmarried partners of named employees;

(iii) In the recruiting of individuals for employment or in hiring them, to utilize any employment agency, placement service, training school or center, labor organization, or any other employee referring source which the employer knows, or has reasonable cause to know, discriminates against individuals because of their race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin;

(iv) To refuse to reasonably accommodate an employee’s or prospective employee’s disability unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would pose a hardship on the employer’s program, enterprise, or business; or

(v) When an employee has presented to the employer an internal complaint alleging harassment in the workplace on the basis of race or color, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or country of ancestral origin, to refuse to disclose in a timely manner in writing to that employee the disposition of the complaint, including a description of any action taken in resolution of the complaint; provided, however, no other personnel information shall be disclosed to the complainant.

(2) For any employment agency to fail or refuse to properly classify or refer for employment or otherwise discriminate against any individual because of his or her race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin; or

(ii) For any employment agency, placement service, training school or center, labor organization, or any other employee referring source to comply with an employer’s request for the referral of job applicants if the request indicates either directly or indirectly that the employer will not afford full and equal employment opportunities to individuals regardless of their race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin;

(3) For any labor organization:

(i) To deny full and equal membership rights to any applicant for membership because of his or her race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin;

(ii) Because of those reasons, to deny a member full and equal membership rights, expel him or her from membership, or otherwise discriminate in any manner against him or her with respect to his or her hire, tenure, compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, or any other matter directly or indirectly related to membership or employment, whether or not authorized or required by the constitution or bylaws of the labor organization or by a collective labor agreement or other contract;

(iii) To fail or refuse to classify properly or refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against any member because of his or her race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin; or

(iv) To refuse to reasonably accommodate a member’s or prospective member’s disability unless the labor organization can demonstrate that the accommodation would pose a hardship on the labor organization’s program, enterprise, or business;

(4) Except where based on a bona fide occupational qualification certified by the commission or where necessary to comply with any federal mandated affirmative action programs, for any employer or employment agency, labor organization, placement service, training school or center, or any other employee referring source, prior to employment or admission to membership of any individual, to:

(i) Elicit or attempt to elicit any information directly or indirectly pertaining to his or her race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin;

(ii) Make or keep a record of his or her race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin;

(iii) Use any form of application for employment, or personnel or membership blank containing questions or entries directly or indirectly pertaining to race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin;

(iv) Print or publish or cause to be printed or published any notice or advertisement relating to employment or membership indicating any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based upon race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin; or

(v) Establish, announce, or follow a policy of denying or limiting, through a quota system or otherwise, employment or membership opportunities of any group because of the race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin of that group;

(5) For any employer or employment agency, labor organization, placement service, training school or center, or any other employee referring source to discriminate in any manner against any individual because he or she has opposed any practice forbidden by this chapter, or because he or she has made a charge, testified, or assisted in any manner in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this chapter;

(6) For any person, whether or not an employer, employment agency, labor organization, or employee, to aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce the doing of any act declared by this section to be an unlawful employment practice, or to obstruct or prevent any person from complying with the provisions of this chapter or any order issued pursuant to this chapter, or to attempt directly or indirectly to commit any act declared by this section to be an unlawful employment practice;

(7) For any employer to include on any application for employment, except applications for law enforcement agency positions or positions related to law enforcement agencies, a question inquiring or to otherwise inquire either orally or in writing whether the applicant has ever been arrested or charged with any crime; provided, that nothing in this subdivision shall prevent an employer from inquiring whether the applicant has ever been convicted of any crime;

(8) For any person who, on June 7, 1988, is providing either by direct payment or by making contributions to a fringe benefit fund or insurance program, benefits in violation with §§ 28-5-6, 28-5-7 and 28-5-38, until the expiration of a period of one year from June 7, 1988 or if there is an applicable collective bargaining agreement in effect on June 7, 1988, until the termination of that agreement, in order to come into compliance with §§ 28-5-6, 28-5-7 and 28-5-38, to reduce the benefits or the compensation provided any employee on June 7, 1988, either directly or by failing to provide sufficient contributions to a fringe benefit fund or insurance program.

(ii) Where the costs of these benefits on June 7, 1988 are apportioned between employers and employees, the payments or contributions required to comply with §§ 28-5-6, 28-5-7 and 28-5-38 may be made by employers and employees in the same proportion.

(iii) Nothing in this section shall prevent the readjustment of benefits or compensation for reasons unrelated to compliance with §§ 28-5-6, 28-5-7 and 28-5-38.

Ninja's summary

Employers may not inquire into an applicant’s criminal history during the initial stage of the employment process. Questions regarding criminal history may not be on the employment application form. Inquiries into criminal history can only be made after the candidate has had a first interview. This standard applies to ALL employers in Rhode Island.

Furthermore, employers may only consider past criminal history information that resulted in a conviction. Non-convictions may not be used when making an employment decision. Employers are prohibited from asking an applicant if they have ever been arrested. An exception exists law enforcement agencies.

Rhode Island General Laws §6-13.1-21: Credit reports – Notice to individual – Requirements of users of credit reports.

(a) No person or business shall request a credit report in connection with a consumer’s application for credit, employment, or insurance unless a consumer is first informed that a credit report may be requested in connection with the application.

(b) Whenever credit or insurance for personal, family, household purposes, or employment involving a consumer is denied or the charge for that credit or insurance is increased either wholly or partly because of information contained in a credit report from a credit bureau, the user of the credit report shall advise the consumer against whom the adverse action has been taken and supply the name and address of the credit bureau making the report.

Ninja's summary

Employers seeking to obtain a credit report or credit history information about an applicant must notify that applicant that a credit report will be requested. The employer must have the applicant’s consent to obtain the credit report.

Rhode Island General Laws §28-56: Employee Social Media Privacy.

§ 28-56-2 Social media password requests prohibited.

No employer shall:

(1) Require, coerce, or request an employee or applicant to disclose the password or any other means for accessing a personal social media account;

(2) Require, coerce, or request an employee or applicant to access a personal social media account in the presence of the employer or representative;

(3) Require or coerce an employee or applicant to divulge any personal social media account information, except when reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or workplace-related violation of applicable laws and regulations and when not otherwise prohibited by law or constitution; provided that the information is accessed and used solely to the extent necessary for purposes of that investigation or a related proceeding.

 

§ 28-56-3 Social media access requests prohibited.

No employer shall compel an employee or applicant to add anyone, including the employer or their agent, to their list of contacts associated with a personal social media account or require, request, or cause an employee or applicant to alter settings that affect a third party’s ability to view the contents of a personal social media account.

Ninja's summary

Employers may not directly or indirectly require an applicant or an employee to disclose their login credentials that provides access to their social media accounts. Employers are also prohibited from requiring an employee add an employee, supervisor, or administrator, to the list of contacts associated with the employee’s social media accounts.

Update: Feb 2018

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a set of federal guidelines that helps regulate hiring practices. The FCRA was created to ensure privacy, accuracy, and fairness of consumer information. The FCRA accomplishes this by having a set standard for collecting, disseminating, and using consumer information.

Employers obtaining consumer reports for background screening purposes must follow specific procedures. For example, employers must disclose to the candidate what the background screening is, what information it includes, and how they intend to use it. They must obtain the written consent of the candidate before obtaining a background screening. They may not misuse the information contained in the background screening. There are also strict procedures an employer must follow should they decide not to hire a potential candidate based on the information in the background screening.

The purpose of the FCRA is to help protect employers, employees, and potential job candidates.

Disclaimer

This material is time sensitive. Contact us for updates. This information is subject to frequent change through legislative and court action.

All materials in this page and accompanying information are for general educational purposes and not intended to provide legal, scientific or medical advice. Consult with an appropriate professional to address specific issues.

Rhode Island Ban the Box

Employers may not inquire into an applicant’s criminal history during the initial stage of the employment process. Questions regarding criminal history may not be on the employment application form. Inquiries into criminal history can only be made after the candidate has had a first interview. This standard applies to ALL employers in Rhode Island. Furthermore, employers may only consider past criminal history information that resulted in a conviction. Non-convictions may not be used when making an employment decision. Employers are prohibited from asking an applicant if they have ever been arrested. An exception exists law enforcement agencies.


Update: Feb 2018

Disclaimer

This material is time sensitive. Contact us for updates. This information is subject to frequent change through legislative and court action.

All materials in this page and accompanying information are for general educational purposes and not intended to provide legal, scientific or medical advice. Consult with an appropriate professional to address specific issues.

County: Court Fee:
Bristol $0.00
Kent $0.00
Newport $0.00
Providence $0.00
Washington $0.00

Rhode Island Consumers Have the Right to Obtain a Security Freeze

You may obtain a security freeze on your credit report to protect your privacy and ensure that credit is not granted in your name without your knowledge. You have a right to place a “security freeze” on your credit report pursuant to the R.I.G.L. chapter 6-48 to the Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2006.

The security freeze will prohibit a consumer reporting agency from releasing any information in your credit report without your express authorization or approval.

The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. When you place a security freeze on your credit report, within five (5) business days you will be provided a personal identification number or password to use if you choose to remove the freeze on your credit report or to temporarily authorize the release of your credit report for a specific period of time after the freeze is in place. To provide that authorization, you must contact the consumer reporting agency and provide all of the following:

  1. The unique personal identification number or password provided by the consumer reporting agency.
  2. Proper identification to verify your identity.
  3. The proper information regarding the period of time for which the report shall be available to users of the credit report.

A consumer reporting agency that receives a request from a consumer to temporarily lift a freeze on a credit report shall comply with the request no later than three (3) business days after receiving the request.

A security freeze does not apply to circumstances where you have an existing account relationship and a copy of your report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents or affiliates for certain types of an account review, collection, fraud control or similar activities.

If you are actively seeking a new credit, loan, utility, telephone, or insurance account, you should understand that the procedures involved in lifting a security freeze may slow your own applications for credit. You should plan ahead and lift a freeze – either completely if you are shopping around, or specifically for a certain creditor – with enough advance notice before you apply for new credit for the lifting to take effect.

You have a right to bring a civil action against someone who violates your rights under the credit reporting laws.

The action can be brought against a consumer reporting agency or a user of your credit report.

Unless you are sixty-five (65) years of age or older, or you are a victim of identity theft with an incident report or a complaint from a law enforcement agency, a consumer reporting agency has the right to charge you up to ten dollars ($10.00) to place a freeze on your credit report, up to ten dollars ($10.00) to temporarily lift a freeze on your credit report, depending on the circumstances, and up to ten dollars ($10.00) to remove a freeze from your credit report. If you are sixty-five (65) years of age or older or are a victim of identity theft with a valid incident report or complaint, you may not be charged a fee by a consumer reporting agency for placing, temporarily lifting, or removing a freeze.

KEY COURT DECISIONS
Court Case Issue Outcome Employer Limitation/ Action

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