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EEO - Affirmative Action: Rhode Island

EEO - Affirmative Action requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Brian J. Lamoureux, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC


  • The Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Act (Act) requires the Rhode Island State government and all public and quasi-public agencies, commissions, boards and authorities to create and maintain affirmative action plans towards the achievement affirmative action. +R.I.G.L. § 28-5.1-1. See Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Act.
  • Additionally, the Act states that all Executive Orders remain in effect.a Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Act.
  • Executive Order 11246 requires employers with federal contracts or subcontracts totally more than $10,000 must engage in affirmative action. See Executive Order 11246.
  • Rhode Island State Agencies as well as Rhode Island employers with federal contracts or subcontracts of over $10,000 must implement affirmative steps to ensure equality of employment opportunities. See Executive Order 11246.

Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Act

+Rhode Island General Laws § 28-5.1-1 states that "equal opportunity and affirmative action towards its achievement is the policy of all units of Rhode Island state government . . ." Each state department of agency, with the exception of the legislative branch of state government, must prepare an annual affirmative action plan. +R.I.G.L. § 28-5.1-3. Further, each agency department head must report to the governor on the statistical results of implementation of equal opportunity and affirmative action plans. ("AAP") +R.I.G.L. § 28-5.1-1. An equal opportunity officer from the Rhode Island State Equal Opportunity Office acts as a liaison to ensure compliance with the requirements of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Act. +R.I.G.L. § 28-5.1-2.

Executive Order 11246

The Rhode Island Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Act explicitly states that all executive orders, other than those that are inconsistent with the Act, remain in effect. +R.I.G.L. § 28-5.1-16. Pursuant to Executive Order No. 11246, employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that exceed $10,000 or that will (or can reasonably be expected to) accumulate to more than $10,000 in any 12-month period to refrain from discrimination and engage in affirmative steps to ensure that applicants and employees receive equal employment opportunities regardless of race, color, religion, sex and/or national origin. +30 Fed. Reg. 12319; +30 Fed. Reg. 12935. The Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has the responsibility to conduct investigations and enforcement proceedings.

The basic affirmative action obligations imposed upon nonconstruction (supply and service) contractors and subcontractors and construction contractors with more than 50 employees and a contract or purchase order of $50,000 or more:

  • To include an Equal Opportunity Clause in each nonexempt contract and subcontract and to post an affirmative action notice where it can readily be seen;
  • To complete an annual Equal Opportunity Survey;
  • To maintain non-segregated facilities; and
  • To develop a written affirmative action program (AAP) for each of its establishments.

The Regulations governing AAPs explain that an AAP includes those policies, practices, and procedures that the contractor implements to ensure that all qualified applicants and employees are receiving an equal opportunity for recruitment, selection, advancement, and every other term and privilege associated with employment. 41 CFR § 60

The OFCCP has established a different approach to affirmative action for the construction industry because of the fluid and temporary nature of the construction workforce. In the construction industry, the OFCCP, rather than the contractor, establishes goals and specifies affirmative action which must be undertaken by Federal and federally assisted construction contractors.

Veterans Preference

Rhode Island private employers are allowed to grant a preference in hiring or promotion to a veteran who has received an honorable or general discharge. +2015 Bill Text RI H.B. 8036. See Recruiting: Rhode Island.

Future Developments

There are no developments to report at this time. Continue to check XpertHR regularly for the latest information on this and other topics.

Additional Resources

EEO - Affirmative Action: Federal

Rhode Island State Equal Opportunity Office