As we’ve discussed here before, most interns are really illegally unpaid employees. But until now, a bona-fide intern, one who is not in reality an employee, was not protected by the New York City Human Rights Law (HRL). That meant interns might be considered fair game for sexual harassment, might be denied a reasonable accommodation of a disability, or could be denied any of the protections afforded employees by the HRL.
Today, the New York City Council adopted an admirably simple amendment to the HRL that brings interns under its protection, taking effect in sixty days. “Intern” is defined in a way that tracks much of the U.S. Department of Labor’s definition. As a part of the workplace, interns should be subject to the same protections, and have the same dignity, as the employees they work alongside. The City Council and Mayor de Blasio deserve congratulations for so quickly and squarely addressing this issue.