Are Unpaid Interns Protected Against Sexual Harassment?

Now, unpaid interns who face obstacles at work will have additional protections when it comes to labor laws. Office life

A bill protecting unpaid interns from sexual harassment was signed into law this month, expanding on Title VII protections from the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

According to KTVU-TV, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law. It will include people in the workplace who are not paid in sexual harassment protection claims such as interns and volunteers.

“Interns and volunteers deserve a safe, fair workplace and the same legal protections against discrimination and harassment as everyone else,” said Berkeley Assembly member Nancy Skinner following the bill’s approval, according to KTVU.

The bill was introduced after a New York harassment case made national headlines involving an unpaid intern. In that case, a Syracuse University student alleged that she was harassed, kissed and groped by a supervisor at her company who retaliated when she did not return the advances.

California is now the third state banning sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace towards unpaid interns. New York, Oregon and the District of Columbia also have laws. The law also protects against gender discrimination.

This advancement is important, because a survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employees in 2008 showed that most students occupying unpaid internships are female and they may be more at risk for harassment, according to KTVU.

Can I File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit If I Am an Intern?

This bill opens up employers who allow sexual harassment on their premises to lawsuits. Remember, sexual harassment can occur in several ways, including quid pro quo and hostile work environments.

If you are an intern experiencing these issues, you should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and our attorneys. We can investigate your case to see if you have a viable claim and hold the company responsible if you have been on the receiving end of harassment.

Kesluk, Silverstein & JacobLos Angeles employment attorneys

Did You Know? It is estimated that half of graduating students who attend college have engaged in an internship.