State Labor Laws, 2003
whose purposes relate to the interests of women; and, as appropriate, providing to the Governor and the General Assembly re- ports and recommendations for legislative or other governmental action.
Plant closing. Aresolution was adopted ask- ing the President and U.S. Congress to take all necessary action to preserve the healthcare benefits of steel industry retirees and retirees in other similarly affected indus- tries where there have been massive layoffs or plant closings.
National Guard units or activated reserve units, or members of National Guard Units who have volunteered for active duty in “Op- eration Enduring Freedom,” “Operation Noble Eagle,” or “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” or any combination of these duties, were au- thorized to use up to 45 days of accumu- lated annual leave in 2003 in connection with absences resulting from the military service. In addition, such employees were authorized to use up to 90 days of accrued sick leave in calendar year 2003 as if it were annual leave without regard to the 30-day limit on annual leave that may otherwise be used in a year.
Wages. New legislation increased the State minimum wage rate from $6.15 to $6.75 per hour on January 1, 2004.
A resolution was adopted declaring April 3, 2003, to be “Rhode Island Pay Equity Day” and asking all Rhode Islanders to join in urging all other States to establish equi- table compensation that eliminates sex and race-based wage discrimination.
Equal employment opportunity. The ban on sex discrimination in employment will not prevent a school district from considering the sex of an employee in relation to em- ployment duties in a locker room or toilet facility used only by members of one sex.
Family issues. Employers, including the State and any political subdivision of the State, may provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to breastfeed or express breast milk for her in- fant child to maintain milk supply and com- fort. The break time must, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. An employer is not required to provide break time if to do so would create an undue hardship on the employer’s operations. An employer must make a reasonable effort to provide a pri- vate, secure and sanitary room or other loca- tion in close proximity to the work area, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express her milk or breastfeed her child.
Equal employment opportunity. It was made an unlawful employment practice for any employer, when an employee has presented to the employer an internal complaint alleg- ing harassment in the workplace on the basis of race or color, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expres- sion, or country of ancestral origin, to refuse to disclose in a timely manner in writing to that employee the disposition of the com- plaint, including a description of any action taken in resolution of the complaint. Pro- vided, however, no other personnel informa- tion will be disclosed to the complainant.
Other laws. Permanent full-time State em- ployees who are members of Federalized
Wages. Amendments to the wage payment law specify that the civil penalty applicable to second and subsequent violations of re- quirements regarding payment of compen- sation for employees in private employment or misrepresentation of wages for such em- ployment may be assessed at the discretion of the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, and that the com- missioner is to provide the employer with 30 days’ notice and an opportunity for a hearing prior to the imposition of any civil penalty. If an employer fails to notify the commissioner in writing within 30 days from the receipt of notification of penalties of its intent to contest the imposition of a penalty, the assessment of the penalty as stated in the notification will be deemed a final order of the commissioner and not sub- ject to further review. All penalties owed are to be paid to the commissioner.
Child labor. Amendments to the child labor law provide that the civil penalty applicable to second or subsequent law violations may be assessed at the discretion of the Commis- sioner of Labor and Workforce Development, and that if an employer fails to notify the commissioner in writing within 30 days from the receipt of notification of penalties of its intent to contest the imposition of a penalty, the assessment of the penalty as stated in the notification will be deemed a final order of the commissioner and not subject to fur- ther review. All penalties owed are to be paid to the commissioner.
Monthly Labor Review
The State child labor law was amended by establishing requirements on contracts entered into on behalf of entertainers under the age of 18. The law pertains to every minor who desires to perform artistic and creative ser- vices in the State. The minor, parent, or guard- ian, are required to petition the court for ap- proval of a contract for such services. Peti- tions will be filed in the probate court of the county where the minor resides or performs. If approved, the minor will not be allowed to disaffirm the contract on the grounds of mi- nority status or grounds that the parent or guardian lacked personal authority. Upon con- tract approval, all types of earnings become the sole property of the minor. There is a court requirement that 15 percent of the minor’s gross earnings be placed in trust for the minor’s benefit; and the minor or the par- ents or guardian may request that an addi- tional percentage be placed in trust. Court- approved contracts will include all require- ments for rendering of the minor’s services and protect the interest of the minor. The court may revoke approval or modify the con- tract if necessary to protect the physical or mental well-being of the minor.
Equal employment opportunity. Administra- tion of title V of the Federal Older Ameri- cans Act was transferred from the Commis- sion on Aging and Disability to the Depart- ment of Labor and Workforce Development. Existing funding to community providers will continue so long as the Federal funding continues and providers meet program goals.
The complaint procedure was revised for persons claiming to be aggrieved by a dis- criminatory practice, on the basis of race, color, or national origin, under Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Enforce- ment duties and powers were transferred from the Human Rights Commission to the Title VI Compliance Commission.
The Governor issued an Executive order directing that no State executive branch agency, department, board, or commission is to discriminate in employment on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, handicap, or national origin. The order also creates the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Equal and Fair Employment Opportunity. This committee will monitor the implemen- tation of this Executive order and regularly review the State’s progress in achieving fair and equal employment opportunity, and advise the Governor on the level of compli- ance and additional actions needed to enable the State to fulfill the mandate of the Execu- tive order. This Executive order supersedes and rescinds Executive Order No. 2, signed February 27, 1995.