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Rhode Island Prohibits Criminal History Questions Before First Interview

Effective January 1, 2014, Rhode Island employers with four or more employees are prohibited from asking about a job applicant’s criminal background prior to the first interview, whether verbally or on a written application.  The prohibition extends to arrests, criminal charges, and convictions.  The law includes limited exceptions for law enforcement positions or situations where legal or bonding requirements could disqualify the applicant from consideration.  Applicants can file administrative or court actions to recover damages related to impermissible inquiries.

Limitations on criminal background inquiries are becoming increasingly popular on the state and local levels.  In addition, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stepped up enforcement regarding discrimination against ex-convicts, which it contends is a form of race and national origin discrimination.  Employers should review their job applications, interview questions, and pre-hire background check processes to ensure compliance with all local, state, and federal laws.

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on civil rights issues and employment laws in general.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.