Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.
Several states mandate the display of sexual harassment posters, including Alaska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. In other states, many employers choose to display a poster on sexual harassment prominently in the workplace, as part of their prevention program.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC, prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.
The USERRA Notice poster was recently updated, making it more important than ever that employers display a current poster. The USERRA- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act poster, ensures the rights of returning veterans and emergency workers.
Federal and state laws require each employer to prominently display a number of labor laws posters, including the USERRA notice. These federal and state labor law posters should be displayed in a conspicuous place. Popular locations are the employee break room, near the time clock, or in another “employees only” area where they will be noticed by every employee.
Most employers find the large, laminated federal and state labor law posters the most durable. There are six posters required for all employers, by federal law. These include:
USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law
Federal Minimum Wage
Employee Polygraph Protection Act
Family and Medical Leave Act
OSHA-Job Safety & Health Protection
To save space, all six federal posters are conveniently available on a single large, laminated poster, called the Complete Poster.
In addition, each state mandates different labor laws posters. The state posting requirements vary greatly. The State of Hawaii mandates only one poster, called the Labor Law Poster, which includes information on Discrimination, Wage & Hour Laws, Unemployment Insurance Law, Disability Compensation Law, Dislocated Workers/Plant Closings, Occupational Safety & Health Laws, Military Leave and the Whistleblower Protection Law.
Several states require only three posters, including Tennessee, North Dakota and South Dakota. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island each require eight different posters, while the State of California requires a whopping 14 state labor law posters to be displayed.
It’s easy for busy employers to overlook the mandatory requirements for state and federal labor laws posters. Many employers don’t realize that depending upon state, they could be subject to fines up to $7,500 in not complying with federal or state posting requirements. The purpose of the posters is to advise employers and employees of their rights and obligations under the law. There is also contact information for employers and employees to report violations of labor law.
I know that the minimum wage law differs throughout each of the states and I have always found it interesting to investigate what each state does to help the lowest-paid workers get by. The state of Rhode Island, I found, is very generous with the minimum wage law. This year, the minimum wage for all workers aged 16 years and older is $7.10. By January 1, 2007, the minimum wage will increase by 30 cents and hour to $7.40. That’s certainly a significant increase.
However, there are exceptions to the minimum wage law for Rhode Island residents. There exceptions are as follows:
1. Full time students under the age of 19 that work in non-profit organizations, such as a non-profit religious, educational, librarial or community service organization receive only $6.39 per hour for their work. That’s 90% of the applicable minimum wage. Next year, that rate will increase by 30 cents as well to $6.66, which will also still be 90% of the applicable minimum.
2. 14 and 15 year olds who do not work more than 24 hours in a week only need to make $5.325 per hour. That’s only 75% of the applicable minimum. Next year, that rate will increase to $5.55 per hour, which is still only 75% of the minimum. However, if a 14 or 15 year old works more than 24 hours in a week, the higher minimum wage must be paid for him or her.
3. Finally, workers employed in domestic service in a private home, such as a housekeeper or baby sitter, or workers employed in Federal service, voluntary service in educational, charitable, religious or nonprofit organizations do not have to receive the minimum wage compensation. Some of these occupations also include shoe shine persons, caddies on golf courses, ushers in theaters and newspaper carriers.
Minimum wage laws for Rhode Island are detialed on the Rhode Island Complete Labor Law poster currently reflecting the latest changes.
I have been researching unemployment benefits and insurance laws throughout the states lately. Basically, I have discovered that just about every state has similar unemployment insurance laws. This is because the laws of put in place in accordance with Federal guidelines and standards. Each state can select how much unemployment compensation and benefits each employee gets after leaving his or her current position, but the basics of the laws are the same.
In general, in order for and individual to collect unemployment insurance, he or she must be a resident of Rhode Island and have worked for an organization that offers unemployment insurance (which is any organization as covered by the state). The wages that you would have earned during your period of employment must be your “base period” wages, which means that you must have received a set amount of money.
Additionally, the individual collecting unemployment benefits must be unemployed due to know fault of his or her own, as defined by the Rhode Island law. For example, the individual will need to be fired or laid off of work in order to collect benefits.
Once you are receiving unemployment benefits, you must continue to file claims. You must also report your weekly job hunting activities and need to prove that you are actively searching for employment either by proving you’ve sent in your resume or some other method. You should have a good reason for turning down any offer for employment as well.
You must also claim any earnings during your period of unemployment. An amount of your earnings will be deducted from your weekly unemployment check based on the amount of money that you earn through your temporary employment.
Not everyone will qualify for unemployment in Rhode Island. However, it is essential that if you meet the qualifications, you continue to stay in contact with the unemployment office in order to send updates.
I found that Rhode Island has been protecting their employees and citizens since May of 1995. As such, employees are outlawed from discrimination in the workplace based on their sexual orientation, appearance or gender.
The anti-discrimination law is the specific law that covers all subjects related to Rhode Island Sexual Harassment. As such, not only are employees protected from discrimination in general, but from discrimination and sexual harassment. The state sees sexual harassment and discrimination as the same, if not very similar, items.
The anti-discrimination/sexual harassment laws apply to all employees of organizations that have more than four employees. However, it does not apply to the employment of persons by religious institutions when the employee is working directly with the institution.
However, it is important to note that if a person if employed by a parent, spouse or child, he or she cannot claim discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace. Additionally, domestic workers may not claim harassment. If the employee is a state employee, he or she certainly is covered under the Rhode Island law.
Rhode Island goes to great lengths to help identify exactly what constitutes sexual harassment. For example, they say that is an employee feels that he or she is being harassed, but cannot pinpoint the source of the harassment, he or she will need to try to get to the bottom of the cause. If an employer remarks about an employee’s sexual orientation, the employer is being harassing. If an employer treats an employee differently based on sexual orientation, then the employer is likewise being harassing and discriminatory.
The key in pinpointing sexual harassment is to look for repeated use of the same words and strategies. For example, an employer might have a pattern of discriminating or the employer might knowingly look over a particular employee for a position based on his knowledge of the employee’s sexual orientation.