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April 1, 2014

NYC Council Votes To Amend Human Rights Law
to Protect Interns

On March 26, 2014, the New York City Council voted to amend the New York City Human Rights Law to prohibit discrimination against interns. The legislation will prohibit employers from discriminating against 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 City Council passed the bill unanimously, which means the legislation would likely survive any potential veto by the Mayor.

The bill defines the term “intern” as an individual who performs work for an employer on a temporary basis whose work:

  1. provides training or supplements training given in an educational environment where the employability of the individual performing the work may be enhanced;
  2. provides experience for the benefit of the individual performing the work; and
  3. is performed under the close supervision of existing staff.

Significantly, the bill provides that an individual who meets the above-criteria will be considered an intern, without regard to whether the intern is paid a salary or wage. If the bill is signed into law, interns, like employees now, will be able to file suit in court or make a complaint to the Commission on Human Rights to enforce the New York City Human Rights Law.

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