Women's Rights Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases


Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years


Women's Rights

The ACLU has argued more women's rights cases before the United States Supreme Court than any other organization. Despite the great strides that have been made in recent decades, gender discrimination remains a very real concern. This discrimination still takes many forms – glass ceilings in the workplace, differential treatment in health insurance coverage, attempts to limit access to reproductive health care, and so on.

Gender Discrimination

It was not so long ago that the ACLU of Rhode Island had to file a lawsuit to overturn a state law that gave a town a one-time exemption from the Fair Employment Practices Act in order to allow its acquisition of an all-male private fire and rescue service. Until full equality is a reality, the ACLU will continue its advocacy work in support of women’s rights.

“Women’s rights are an essential part of the overall human rights agenda, trained on the equal dignity and ability to live in freedom all people should enjoy.”
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice and Founder of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project

Women’s Rights in the News

  • Aug, 20, 2018: ACLU Sues Woonsocket for Retaliating Against Domestic Violence Service Agency
  • Jul, 11, 2018: ACLU Sues Newport Grand Casino for Sex Discrimination
  • Mar, 29, 2018: ACLU Applauds Filing of Formal Regulations to Protect Rights of Trans Students

View All Women's Rights Related News Releases »

Women’s Rights Court Cases

2018: Sojourner House v. Woonsocket
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Rights of the Poor    Due Process    Free Speech    Open Government    Women's Rights    

About This Case:
This is a federal lawsuit against the City of Woonsocket for unlawfully withholding grant funds from Sojourner House, a social service agency that helps victims of domestic violence. The lawsuit alleges that the City withheld the funds without cause or due process, and then retaliated against the agency after it petitioned other government agencies for help in resolving the dispute over the funds.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in August 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorneys:
Matthew T. Oliverio, Stephen M. Prignano

Supporting Documents
2018: Borrelli v. Premier Entertainment II, LLC.
Category: Active Case    Civil Rights    Discrimination    Gender Discrimination    Women's Rights    Workplace Rights    

About This Case:
This is a sex and age discrimination lawsuit against the Newport Grand Casino on behalf of Paula Borrelli, a female employee, who claims that, for a decade, she has been paid significantly less than a younger male employee performing the same duties in the same position.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in July 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
Lynette Labinger

Supporting Documents

View All Sex Discrimination Court Cases »

Women’s Rights Legislation

Abortions Across State Lines (H 7735, S 2791) DIED
Category: 2018    Abortion    

The General Assembly also considers a host of anti-choice legislation each year aimed at restricting or eliminating the ability of Rhode Islanders to make their own reproductive choices. Among them was legislation (H 7735, S 2791) imposing felony penalties against any person who assists a minor in obtaining an abortion in another state without the consent of the minor's parents or the courts. The ACLU testified in opposition to this legislation before the House Judiciary committee in April and the Senate Judiciary committee in May; neither committee took action on this or a myriad of other anti-choice bills.

Reproductive Health Care Act (H 7340, S 2163) DIED
Category: 2018    Abortion    

With the constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance in light of a divided U.S. Supreme Court, pro-choice organizations including the ACLU made a major push this year to ensure that the reproductive rights Rhode Islanders have today continue regardless of what happens in the courts tomorrow. Rep. Edith Ajello and Sen. Gayle Goldin introduced legislation  (H 7340, S 2163) codifying the principles of Roe v. Wade into state law, and repealing a number of state laws on the books that have been declared unconstitutional over the years, including a spousal notice requirement. The ACLU testified before the House Judiciary committee in April and before the Senate Judiciary committee in May. Unfortunately, neither committee took action on the bill before the legislature adjourned for the year.  Click here for a printable factsheet on this issue