University Regulations & Employment Laws

The purpose of this section is to provide a reference document that summarizes briefly the various University Policies, federal and state laws that apply to the student workers at Brown University. This outline is not exhaustive and laws and regulations may be amended. This document does, however, touch upon key federal and state laws with which you should be familiar. For additional information and clarification, please contact Student Employment.

University Regulations

Confidential Information

Receipt of information from other individuals, institutions and organizations, is one of Brown’s most valuable resources, which requires responsible use by Brown University personnel. Often, such information contains trade secrets and/or is considered confidential. Access to confidential information is restricted to those who have a need to know or use the information data, as defined by job duties and subject to appropriate approval. Anyone who receives confidential information has a responsibility to maintain and safeguard this information and to use it with consideration and ethical regard for others. Circumventing or attempting to circumvent restrictions on the use and dissemination of confidential information is considered a serious offense and could lead to corrective action, up to and including termination of employment.

Departments are encouraged to have student workers sign a statement of confidentiality; particularly students working with information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.

Copyright Infringement

The reproduction by any means of any copyrighted material which has not been placed in the public domain or, if software, distributed as “freeware” or “shareware” without the consent of the copyright holder is expressly prohibited except as otherwise permitted by specific exceptions as set forth in the laws covering copyright. Violations of the copyright policy may result in individual liability for copyright infringement. Questions on copyright matters should be addressed to the Vice President and General Counsel

Software Piracy and Computer Security

Employees who purchase and/or use copyrighted and/or licensed software in the performance of their job functions are expected to abide by all the conditions of the vendor’s agreement enclosed with the program, including restricted limitations on copying, use, and distribution of the program and documentation. There is no absolute entitlement to use a co-worker’s software packet or use one software packet for departmental use. Brown’s computer and information system is a shared resource.

Access to the network is conditioned upon strict compliance with rules and regulations established by the University. No user of the network is permitted to invade the files of another without that user’s consent or to use the network to engage in any illegal or unethical activity. Additional information on Brown University’s computer usage policy can be found on the Computing and Information Services’ website.

Access to the network is conditioned upon strict compliance with rules and regulations established by the University. No user of the network is permitted to invade the files of another without that user’s consent or to use the network to engage in any illegal or unethical activity. Additional information on Brown University’s computer usage policy can be found on the Computing and Information Services’ website.

Federal and State Employment Laws

Employment Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: Federal law that prohibits discrimination in all phases of employment, including hiring, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex (including pregnancy). The Civil Rights Act also makes sexual and racial harassment illegal.

Sexual Harassment: More information about sexual harassment and Brown’s policies and procedures for dealing with allegations of sexual harassment is available through the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Equal Pay Act (“EPA”): Federal law that prohibits wage differentials based on sex, and requires“equal pay for equal work” on jobs which require equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”): Federal law that makes it illegal to refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate against an individual based on age. The ADEA protects persons 40 years of age and older.

Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”): Federal law which prohibits an employer from refusing to hire or from otherwise discriminating against an individual who has or is regarded as having a  a physical or mental disability who is able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Federal law that applies to educational institutions which receive federal grants. The Act provides protection for persons with disabilities comparable to those provided by the ADA.

Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act (“FEPA”): State law which provides the right of all individuals in this state to equal employment opportunities, regardless of race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin.

 

Wage & Hour Laws

Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”): The federal law which defines the minimum wage, overtime pay and record keeping standards applicable to employees. The FLSA also regulates child labor by requiring, among other things, that employees be at least 18 years of age before performing & “hazardous” work.

Rhode Island Wage and Hour Laws: Rhode Island’s state wage and hour laws compliment the FLSA, but only applies in instances where it provides greater rights or protections than federal law.  For example, the federal minimum wage for 2020 is $7.25 per hour, while in Rhode Island, the state minimum wage is $11.50 per hour.  For additional areas where state law differs, contact University Human Resources.


Health and Safety

Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”): Federal law which requires employers to provide safe and healthy working conditions for employees. The law establishes detailed occupational health and safety standards and requires records be maintained of job related injuries and illnesses.

Drug Free Workplace Act: Federal law that requires the recipients of federal grants, to provide and maintain a drug-free workplace. Among other things the employer must maintain a drug awareness program and notify employees whose work relates to the grant that the manufacture, distribution, possession or use of controlled substances are illegal. 

Drug Free Schools and Communities Act: Federal law that requires educational institutions that receive federal funds, to adopt and implement an anti-drug and alcohol abuse program. Information concerning the program must be distributed to students and employees on an annual basis.

Public Health and Workplace Safety Act: For reasons of public health, and in compliance with Rhode Island law, employees may not smoke indoors in any building at Brown University  Link to policy

Additional Laws

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (“IRCA”): Federal law which requires employers to verify that employees are eligible to work in the United States. The IRCA also prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants on the basis of national origin or citizenship.

Rhode Island Workers Compensation Law: Brown student workers are covered by statutory Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation (WC) insurance which is a no fault insurance designed to provide assistance to employees injured at work for medical expenses and/or lost wages.  Covered employees who are injured at work or who become ill from working may be eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits.   This program is coordinated through the Brown University Insurance Office. Every injury and situation is unique; therefore, the Insurance Office handles each case on an individual basis. 
 

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