New Law Establishes that NYC Interns Qualify as “Employees” Protected by Employment Discrimination Laws, Beginning June 14, 2014

On April 15, 2014, New York City Mayor DeBlasio signed a law to protect unpaid interns working in New York City from discrimination and harassment by their employers.

Prior to this law, unpaid interns could not avail themselves of the protection of New York City laws against sexual harassment in the workplace, as a federal judge ruled in the 2013 case Wang. v. Phoenix Satellite Television U.S., Inc.  There, an unpaid intern at media company was not an “employee” within meaning of the New York City Human Rights Law as required for the intern’s sexual harassment/hostile work environment claim since she received no remuneration for her services.

While the new legislation applies only to employers in New York City, there is pending legislation in the New York State legislature to expand the scope of the protections statewide.

As the summer internship season approaches, employers should ensure that all of their interns — whether paid or unpaid — are treated fairly under the laws with respect to discrimination and wages.  Should you have any question about the new legislation, or whether your internship programs are in compliance with Federal, State, and local laws, please contact Marianne Monroy, Lauren Rieders, or the GW attorney with whom you regularly work.

~Submitted by M Monroy and L Rieders

Categories: Employment Law