A license to be a creep. A new ruling says sexual harassment is just fine in New York as long as the victim is an unpaid intern.
“A controversial ruling by a federal judge in New York City is sparking outrage tonight. The judge ruled that unpaid interns in New York City can not sue their employers for sexual harassment.” (Via WWMT)
In 2010, Lihuan Wang’s lawyer says she interned for a Hong Kong-based company with a New York office. She says her boss lured her into a hotel room, then groped her and tried to kiss her. (Via KOKH)
That boss was later fired when another woman filed a harassment complaint against him.
Judge Kevin Castel wrote the state and city human rights laws didn’t protect Wang because she wasn’t paid, and therefore wasn’t technically an employee. (Via USA Today)
No wages, no benefits, and no legal protection from potential predators. It’s not as rare a policy as you might think.
“Only the state of Oregon allows unpaid interns to sue for sexual harassment.” Jonathan Bell, civil rights attorney: “Think about it. These interns are normally young, naive, eager to please and, if anything, they should be protected. There should be laws to protect them.” (Via WLNY)
Still, WKEF reports 62 percent of college internships in America are paid, and an expert told the station he expects that number to rise. (Via WKEF)
As for New York, a city council member announced she’ll introduce legislation to protect unpaid interns. The New York Daily News reports 26-year-old Wang’s lawsuit will still go forward on the basis the company refused to hire her after she reported her boss harassed her. (Via New York Daily News)