In response to a NY federal court decision which held that an unpaid female intern who alleged sexually harassment by a company higher-up was not an employee for purposes of the anti-discrimination laws (which we discussed on October 15, 2013), the New York City Council voted 50-0 last March to prohibit employers from discriminating against unpaid interns on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation, citizenship status or status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking. The bill was signed into law, and claimants are now permitted to either sue or make a complaint to the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
On October 29, 2013 we reported that “Indiana University Law professor Deborah Widiss said that the federal decision ‘reveals a very important gap [in the harassment laws] that I think needs to be addressed.’ We noted that this “loophole” was cited by city and state politicians who promised remedial legislation.
State legislators thereafter introduced a bill which would “fill the gap,” but that bill was bottled up in committee. So the City acted.
It has now been reported in Law360, that Gov. Cuomo just signed into law a bill which gives New York state interns workplace protections, “expanding across the state a similar move made in spring by New York City leaders.” The law states that “case law in this state has long held that unpaid volunteers are not protected,” and overrules those cases.