State Senator Introduces Intern-Protective Legislation

New York State Senator Liz Krueger has introduced legislation (Bill No. S05951) that will “[p]rovide certain civil rights protections for interns.”   It was motivated by a recent court decision, Wang v. Phoenix, which held that unpaid interns are not protected by the New York City Human Rights Law.

(It is interesting that state intern-protection legislation would have been motivated by the Wang decision, which notes the existence of state precedent dating to 1985 holding that the State Human Rights Law “does not extend protection to unpaid positions other than volunteer firemen, who are expressly covered by the statute.”)

In any event, S05951 would amend the New York State Executive Law to add a new section, 296-c, titled “Unlawful Discriminatory Practices Relating to Interns.”  Among other things it defines who is an “Intern” and contains prohibitions on discrimination, harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment, and retaliation.  It also contains a section specifically prohibiting both “quid pro quo” and “hostile work environment” sexual harassment.

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