Governor Chaffee, an Independent, said, “This repeal of all parts of the Executive Order on E-Verify will effectively turn the clock back to March 26, 2008, the day before then-Governor Carcieri signed it into law.” Governor Chafee added, “This re-set will allow us to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with our immigrant communities, law enforcement agencies and all interested parties. This is an opportunity to reach a consensus on how best to enforce the law.”
The new executive order means that companies holding contracts with the state of Rhode Island are no longer required to use E-Verify when hiring new employees. It is still lawful for the companies to use E-Verify, but they are not required to do so.
Branches of the state government are not required to use E-Verify for newly hired employees under the new executive order, and there is every indication that they will stop doing so.
In March 2008, Republican Governor Donald Carcieri issued an executive order that required all state agencies in the executive branch, and state contractors, to use E-Verify to ensure that they were not hiring undocumented workers.
This action is in contrast to a trend among states to more strongly enforce employment laws during a recession with high unemployment. In Florida, for example, the newly elected governor (more…)
The Rhode Island Superior Court has ruled that employers cannot conduct random drug tests in the workplace. State statutes permit drug tests, but only when there is a reasonable suspicion that the employee is impaired on the job. The Rhode Island Drug Test statute limits how such tests can be conducted, according to the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union.
The test case involved police matron and court interpreter Romana Ramos, who had worked for the City of Pawtucket for 17 years. Pawtucket is a picturesque city of about 73,000 people, founded in 1671.
The city employee benefits coordinator advised Ramos on April 6, 2010 that she must immediately submit to a random urine test to screen for illegal drugs. Ramos objected and was advised by the police chief that if she refused the random drug test, she would be suspended without pay for 30 days. Apparently this course of action was approved by the city attorney.
Under duress, Ramos agreed to both a random drug test and a breathalyzer test. Both tests were negative for drugs and alcohol. Ramos sued the employer and the employer agreed to a settlement. The City of Pawtucket issued an apology to Officer Ramos, paid her legal fees and agreed (more…)
A recent change to the Rhode Island discrimination law means that an employer can be sued three years later, if an employee feels he or she has been the victim of discrimination. The new law goes into effect immediately.
Under the previous law, there was a one-year statute of limitations on employment discrimination.
The Rhode Island Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on color, race, religion, disability, sex, age or national origin. It outlaws employment discrimination and retaliation.
This extension overturns a Rhode Island Supreme Court ruling in Horn v. Southern Union, which established a (more…)
Does your region have an innovative plan to answer the challenge of training its workforce for the highly competitive, evolving global economy? Does that plan offer a way to bring employment to a region that has traditionally suffered from high jobless rates?
If so, it may have a chance at qualifying for a WIRED grant.
A Rhode Island unemployment grant would offer job opportunities for workers, particularly those in regions where high unemployment is the norm. If the grant became a reality, a Rhode Island region might join others in the nation that have garnered WIRED grants – regions like the Delaware Valley, northern California, northern Alabama, the Mississippi/Arkansas Delta region, and northern Indiana.
The U.S. Labor Department distributes the grants. It has announced the third “generation,” or round, of the grants. In the past, it has pumped $260 million into regions throughout the US. So far, 26 such regions of high unemployment have received grant money through WIRED.
WIRED is short for the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative. As the name suggests, it supports non-traditional methods of tackling high unemployment and bring regional labor pools “up to speed” with the skills needed to compete in the fast-growing global marketplace.
How does a region qualify for a grant? It’s not easy. First, however, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao sends letters out to each governor in the U.S., announcing the latest generation of grants. The governors in turn pick just 2 proposals out of those submitted by the regions of their states. Each region’s proposal must show other sources of funding, so the Labor Department can complement those funds.
Secretary Chao said, when announcing the earlier, second round of grants, that “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality.”
According to Emily Stover DeRocco, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training, the third generation of the grants is designed to insure that local Workforce Investment Boards become “leaders of a strategic regional partnership.” That, in turn, “can drive economic transformations in regions across the country and improve employment and advancement opportunities for workers.”
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. reached a recent settlement agreement that will enable the retail giant to comply with both federal and Rhode Island overtime laws. At the heart of this agreement is the method in which the nation’s largest retailer calculated the overtime they paid employees. The US Department of Labor maintains Wal-Mart did not correctly calculate overtime and did not properly pay overtime to employees.
The law is that overtime should be calculated at 1.5 times the employee’s usual salary rate for hours that exceed 40 during the week. This usual rate should include incentives and premiums. Wal-Mart didn’t include the incentives and premiums when calculating overtime.
For instance, if an employee’s base rate is $6.00 per hour but with premiums and incentives, he or she normally earns $7.00, then overtime should be calculated using $7.00 as the employee’s base rate. Because Wal-Mart violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the retailer needs to pay 86,680 employees back pay. These employees worked between February 1, 2002 and January 19, 2007.
According to Victoria A. Lipnic, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards, “This settlement provides $33 million in back wages, plus interest, to Wal-Mart workers, and the company has taken corrective action to prevent this from happening again.”
The agreement not only has Wal-Mart pay back wages buy also interest on those wages. The interest is included to be a deterrent again this transgression being committed again at some future time. The agreement was finalized by the Labor Department filing a complaint. This complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court and it alleges that the retailer committed violations of both state minimum wage laws and FLSA provisions.
A consent judgment was issued that ordered Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to pay employees for back wages. This consent judgment also enjoined the retailer from further violations. The court quickly approved the consent judgment.