Effective June 20, 2012, the Rhode Island Homeless Bill of Rights prohibits employers from discriminating against a job applicant or employee based on his or her status as homeless (RI Gen. Laws Sec. 34-37.1-1 et seq.). The law expressly prohibits employment discrimination because an applicant or employee lacks a permanent mailing address or uses the mailing address of a shelter or social service provider.
A person alleging a violation of the law may bring a civil action for injunctive relief, actual damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Employers should take steps to ensure that those involved in the hiring process are aware of the law. Supervisors should be advised of the law and its prohibition of adverse employment action based on a person’s status as homeless.
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