Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Bill aims to protect interns against sexual harassment

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Days after a federal judge said an unpaid intern did not have the same protections as paid employees against workplace sexual harassment, a state lawmaker has introduced legislation to end what has been described as a dangerous loophole in the state’s human rights laws.

Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, wants to end sexual harassment episodes in which employers have escaped without any penalty solely because the victim was an intern.

The legislation comes after a federal judge in New York ruled Oct. 3 that a Syracuse University graduate could not, as an intern, sue a Chinese-language media company in Manhattan, despite allegations that her former boss made unwelcome sexual advances against her in 2010. The decision, which the judge said was necessary because New York City’s human rights provisions do not provide protections for unpaid interns, drew national headlines.

In a memo accompanying Krueger’s legislation, the lawmaker also cited a 2004 case of an unpaid intern at Rockland Psychiatric Center who was allegedly called "Miss Sexual Harassment" by a staff physician, who also suggested she remove her clothes before meeting with him. Her sexual harassment lawsuit lost because of her intern status.

Krueger’s legislation, which does not yet have an Assembly sponsor, makes it unlawful for employers to "engage in unwelcome sexual advances" or make requests for sexual favors or engage in "other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature to an intern."

The legislation also provides other specific human rights protections to unpaid interns, including making it illegal for a company to take any retaliatory action against an intern who has filed a complaint of sexual harassment. Other protections are also being sought, including banning employers from forcing an intern who is pregnant to take a leave of absence.

Krueger said her bill is based on an Oregon law designed to protect unpaid interns.

 

tagged

Albany
comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement

About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

[email protected]


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

[email protected]


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | [email protected]


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | [email protected]

Subscribe

Advertisement