Legislation Will Ensure Interns are Granted Workplace Protection Against Discrimination and Harassment

City Hall- Today the City Council will vote to amend the NYC Human Rights Law specifically providing that interns are entitled to the same workplace protections against discrimination and harassment as employees. The Council will also vote on a resolution calling upon the New York State Assembly and Senate to pass, and the Governor to sign, a State budget that allows the City to use State reimbursements for rental subsidies for the homeless. Finally, the Council will vote on resolution calling upon the State’s Department of Transportation to implement the recommendations of the Sheridan-Hunts Point Land Use and Transportation Study.

Prohibiting Discrimination Against Interns (Intro 173-A)

Recently, a court found that protections against workplace discrimination under the City’s Human Rights Law do not extend to interns. This legislation sponsored by Council Member James Vacca will ensure that the same protections given to employees are also given to interns, whether or not they receive a wage.

New York will be one of the first cities in the country to pass legislation specifically aimed at protecting interns from discrimination in the workplace. The Council’s legislation will specifically prohibit employers from discriminating against interns on the basis of their actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation, alienage or citizenship status, or status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking. In addition, the law would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for interns in certain circumstances.

“No one should ever have to tolerate a discriminatory work environment, regardless of title,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Interns are often young people getting their first experience in a professional setting, so it’s especially important that they are exposed to a respectful and appropriate work environment where their rights are protected. We must make sure all New Yorkers are protected against work place discrimination.”

“Interns are a vital part of the workforce, and they deserve to receive the same protections as all other employees. Every worker – paid and unpaid – should have the right to do their job in a harassment-free environment. Interpretation of the current law leaves a Swiss cheese-like hole that could jeopardize an intern’s rights and recourse. I am proud to sponsor this legislation, which will give a voice to all interns who are subjected to discrimination,” said Council Member James Vacca.

“Internships are some of the most vital and important educational experiences that many students have. As the chair of the Civil Rights Committee, I am so proud to have been able to ensure that New York City protects this vulnerable population,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy. “No one should have to face discriminatory treatment, especially when they are seeking to improve their educational or career opportunities. This legislation states explicitly that such behavior against interns will not be tolerated. Intro 173-A will ensure that our city’s interns know that they have the same protections from discrimination that paid employees enjoy. I look forward to working with the rest of the Council and the City’s Human Rights Commission to make sure that this valued segment of our city’s workforce is safe from discrimination and harassment of any kind.”