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Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union

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Discrimination Court Cases

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Equality for all is one of the basic foundations of the United States, and the Rhode Island Affiliate strives to protect that right by fighting discrimination in the courtroom to ensure that all people are treated justly, no matter their race, sex, sexual orientation, economic status, disability, or any other protected status.


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Spruill v. Alexander.  (2009-ongoing)

RIGHTS OF THE POOR. A federal lawsuit against the state Department of Human Services, alleging that the state’s failure to timely process food stamp applications is resulting in the denial of “desperately needed assistance to help [applicants] feed their families,” and forcing them to “suffer hunger as a result.” Cooperating Attorney: Lynette Labinger
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Damiani v. City of East Providence. (2008-ongoing)

DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION. Federal lawsuit challenging the city’s “physical examination” requirement for the position of assistant harbormaster, imposed for the first time only after the plaintiff, with a known disability, applied for the position. Cooperating Attorney: Carolyn A. Mannis
News Release | Lawsuit

Estrada v. R.I. State Police. (2007-ongoing)

RACIAL PROFILING. “Racial profiling” lawsuit challenging the legality of the stop, hour-long detention, and transporting to immigration officials of fourteen Guatemalans; the suit argues that the stop and detention were based solely on the ethnicity of the driver and passengers. Cooperating Attorney: V. Edward Formisano
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Chambers v. Ormiston. (2007)

GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS. “Friend of the court” brief filed in the R.I. Supreme Court supporting the jurisdiction of the Family Court to entertain a divorce petition filed by a same-sex couple validly married in Massachusetts. By a 3-2 vote, the court held that the Family Court had no jurisdiction to hear the petition. Cooperating Attorney: Carolyn A. Mannis; ACLU GLBT Project Attorney: Rose Saxe
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Bourgeois v. Town of North Smithfield. (2004-2005)

SEX DISCRIMINATION. Administrative discrimination complaint filed on behalf of a man who, solely because of his sex, was denied a coaching position for a girls’ junior high softball team. Under a settlement agreement, the plaintiff was given the job. Cooperating Attorney: Lynette Labinger
News Release

Tiverton School Committee v. McCullough. (2004-2005)

GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS. The ACLU is representing the defendants in this case, a recently-married lesbian couple living in Massachusetts, one of whom is a retired Tiverton teacher. The school district’s collective bargaining agreement provides retired teachers with family health care benefits for spouses. When the defendants applied for coverage, the school district responded with this declaratory judgment action seeking a ruling that Rhode Island does not recognize same-sex marriages solemnized outside of the state. The case was favorably settled, with the benefits being provided. Cooperating Attorney: Lynette Labinger
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Discrimination Cases Over the Years

Highlights from court cases since the early 1970s in each of the areas below:


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