Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Court Cases Over the Years

Freedom from Sex Discrimination

Discrimination on the basis of gender has been all-too-common in Rhode Island in a variety of settings -- in school, on the baseball field, and even in the courthouse. The R.I. ACLU has played an important role in eliminating many vestiges of sex discrimination, as the sample cases below demonstrate:

1975: Fortin v. Darlington Little League

Favorable appeals court decision finding unconstitutional a Little League rule which barred girls from playing in the League.

1977: In re: Johnston School Athletic Program

Favorably-settled Title IX complaint alleging that the school provided unequal athletic opportunity and facilities for girls.

1979: Traugott v. Petit

Favorable state Supreme Court decision holding that women have a common law right to use the name of their choice on their driver’s license and motor vehicle registration.

1984: Planned Parenthood v. Board of Medical Review

Successful challenge to state law requiring husbands to be notified before a woman could have an abortion.

1989: Virella v. Scott

Favorably settled federal lawsuit challenging Health Department policy denying separated married women the right to give their children the surname of their choice.

1990: In re: Lucille Riccitelli

Successful suit filed after a Probate Court judge denied a married woman the right to change her name back to her birth-name unless she got her husband’s consent.

1991: Kleczek v. R.I. Interscholastic League

Unsuccessful lawsuit challenging an Interscholastic League rule barring boys from playing field hockey.

1992: Sammataro v. Sammataro

Successful appeal on behalf of a mother who lost custody of her daughter solely for receiving welfare assistance.

1996: Cohen v. Brown University

“Friend of the court” brief filed in support of a successful challenge to Brown University’s athletic program as sex-discriminatory in violation of Title IX.

2000: Perry v. East Providence School Committee

Successfully settled sex discrimination complaint challenging the school district’s advertisement of a vacancy for a special education aide position as for men only.

2003: Rathbun v. Autozone

The ACLU is co-counsel in this appeal of a federal sex discrimination lawsuit, addressing the appropriate statute of limitations for filing suit under the R.I. Civil Rights Act.

2003: Melendez v. Town of North Smithfield

Federal lawsuit, on behalf of a female Hispanic firefighter applicant, challenging a state law giving a town a one-time exemption from the Fair Employment Practices Act in order to allow its acquisition of an all white, all male private fire and rescue service.

2005: Bourgeois v. Town of North Smithfield

Favorably settled discrimination complaint on behalf of a man who, solely because of his sex, was denied a position as a girls’ junior high softball team coach.

2007: Women's Studies Organization of RIC v. Rhode Island College

Favorably settled lawsuit challenging a college's censorship of a sign supporting reproductive freedom displayed by a student women's rights group.

2010: Rhode Island Chapter, National Organization for Women v. Wall

Successfully settled lawsuit seeking Department of Corrections' policies governing the shackling of pregnant women; the lawsuit prompted passage of a state law significantly restricting such shackling.


See Other Highlighted Discrimination Cases:

Return to: Recent Discrimination Cases

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