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New York City interns get discrimination, harassment protections

Interns can gain important experience for their future careers. These positions can be invaluable for many reasons, ranging from the learning experience to a source for networking. But, Interns enter the workplace with a somewhat different status, according to some commentators. The courts may also, at times, treat interns differently.

We reported a story last November that discussed a ruling from a federal court chambered in New York that said that unpaid interns could not sue an employer for sexual harassment. The court reasoned that interns are not paid employees.

That issue has been addressed in New York City. The city council responded to last year’s court ruling by passing a measure to provide interns in the city with protection against sexual harassment in the workplace. Federal protections are provided for workers at a business. But, the idea of being considered an employee is premised upon the proviso that the person is paid for his or her work.

The measure in New York City passed unanimously and bans other forms of discrimination beyond sexual harassment. Interns deserve protections against workplace discrimination based upon race, sexual orientation and religion - - areas the measure covers for interns in the five boroughs.

Discrimination and harassment can adversely affect workers, both in the work environment, as well as in life after hours. Stress-related health issues and depression, unfortunately, may be common adverse effects that workers may experience when being harassed in the workplace. Workers may turn to an employment law attorney for assistance in seeking justice for workplace harassment.

Source: Pro Publica, “Interns Are Now Protected Against Sexual Harassment in NYC,” Blair Hickman, March 28, 2014

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