This week, New York City implemented legislation to provide the same workplace protections to unpaid interns which paid employees have enjoyed for years.
Last year, a federal judge ruled that the New York City Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace, covers only employees. He reasoned that unpaid interns were not employees so they were not protected by the anti-discrimination laws. The shocking result in that case was that the unpaid intern, who was allegedly brought to her supervisor’s hotel room and subjected to sexual advances, could not sue. But, if she were a paid employee, she would have had a legal claim.
New York City closed that loophole by passing legislation to include unpaid interns as people covered by the City’s Human Rights Law. Come June when the law takes effect, interns can rest assured that they too can vindicate their rights if subjected to unlawful discrimination or harassment in the workplace.