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Employment Discrimination

In Rhode Island, it is illegal under state law for an employer to discriminate against you because of your choice to obtain a restraining order or your choice not to obtain a restraining order.

Rhode Island General Law § 12-28-10 states: "No employer, employment agency or licensing agency shall refuse to hire any applicant for employment or discharge an employee or discriminate against him or her with respect to any matter related to employment, solely by reason of his or her seeking or obtaining a protective order … or refusing to seek or obtain a protective order."

If you believe you have been a victim of this sort of discrimination, you have the right to bring a private lawsuit against the employer, asking to have your job back and/or to receive compensation for the money you lost due to the discrimination.

To do so, you will most likely need a lawyer. Some lawyers may be willing to represent you for a "contingent fee," which means that you pay the attorney nothing unless and until you win the case. Once you win, you either pay the laywer a percentage of the money that the court awards you, or the court may order the employer to pay the lawyer instead.

The following organizations may be able to help you find a lawyer willing to take your case on a contingent basis:

Rhode Island ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)

Rhode Island Bar Association Lawyer Referral

Housing Discrimination

Discrimination against victims of domestic violence in housing matters is illegal under state law.

Rhode Island General Law § 34-37-2.4 states: "It shall be unlawful and against public policy to discriminate against a tenant or applicant for housing solely on the basis that said tenant or applicant is a victim of domestic violence."

In many cases, discrimination against victims of domestic violence is also illegal under federal laws.

If you believe that you have been subject to this sort of discrimination, you can contact the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights:

Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights
180 Westminster Street, 3rd Floor
Providence, RI 02903
Tel: 401-222-2661 TTY: 401-222-2664
Fax: 401-222-2616
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM

In addition, if you live in federally subsidized housing (for example, Section 8 voucher, Section 8 project-based housing, public housing, authority housing, or others), you may be subject to additional housing protections under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Insurance Discrimination

Under Rhode Island law, it is illegal for your health, life or property & casualty insurance company to discriminate against you on the basis of your status as a victim of domestic violence.

Health Insurance
Rhode Island General Law (R.I.G.L.) § 27-60-3 states: "A health carrier shall not engage, directly or indirectly, in an unfairly discriminatory act or practice against a subject of abuse."

Life Insurance
R.I.G.L. § 27-61-3 states: "No insurer issuing or renewing a policy of life insurance in this state shall engage in an unfairly discriminatory act or practice against a subject of abuse…"

Property & Casualty Insurance
R.I.G.L. § 27-60.1 states: "It is unfairly discriminatory to deny, refuse to issue, renew or reissue; to cancel or otherwise terminate; restrict or exclude coverage on or to add a premium differential to a property and casualty insurance policy on the basis of the applicant's or insured's abuse status."

If you believe that you have been subject to this sort of discrimination, you can contact the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation’s Insurance Division.