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Mayor de Blasio Signs Bill to Protect Interns from Discrimination in the Workplace

April 15, 2014

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New legislation extends workplace protections to paid and unpaid interns

Mayor reaffirms his commitment to aggressively defending human rights in New York City

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today signed important legislation to protect interns from discrimination in the workplace. New York City is one of the first municipalities in the nation to pass legislation specifically prohibiting discrimination against paid and unpaid interns.

This legislation will clarify that interns, paid or unpaid, are entitled to the full protections guaranteed to employees under the City’s Human Rights Law, and addresses a recent federal court decision that a woman in our city was not protected from sexual workplace harassment solely because she was an intern. Without intending to limit current provisions of the law covering interns, including paragraphs 1, 2, and 4, of section 8-107, and without relieving the courts of their obligation to interpret every provision of the law broadly in favor of discrimination plaintiffs, this legislation underscores the fact that all interns are entitled to a workplace free from discrimination.

“New Yorkers deserve to work in a safe environment without fear of harassment or discrimination—and this legislation will ensure that interns, paid or unpaid, are entitled to workplace protections under the law. Our administration is fully committed to aggressively defending human rights in our city, and this legislation will provide critical legal protection for unpaid interns in the workplace,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I want to thank Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Jimmy Vacca, and all the City Council members who co-sponsored this critical legislation. Our administration looks forward to working with the Council in the future to ensure that all New Yorkers have the full protections of our Human Rights Law, and that every provision of the law is strongly enforced.” 

“In today’s workplace, where more interns and fellows are working on influential matters, it is incredibly important to establish that short-term, unpaid employees have the same rights and protections against inappropriate treatment as paid employees. I thank the Council Member James Vacca for his leadership on this issue, and I commend Mayor de Blasio for signing this bill,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

“Today, our city has taken an important step to ensure that  interns are granted the same protections in the workplace as other employees,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Our legislation makes clear that there’s no place for discrimination or harassment of any kind in our city, and I thank Council Member Jimmy Vacca, Civil Rights Committee Chair Darlene Mealy, my Council colleagues and Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer for their tireless work on this issue.”

“In more than 30 years of public service, I have sponsored over 1,000 interns in my career and they work as hard as many full-time employees I’ve seen. Interns deserve equal protection under the law, and this legislation—which I first introduced last year—does just that, extending the City’s Human Rights Law to include unpaid interns. I’m delighted that the Council passed this legislation, under the leadership of Speaker Mark-Viverito, and that Mayor de Blasio is signing it today,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

“We have tens of thousands of interns in New York City who make up a vital part of our workforce, and they deserve the same protections as all other employees. Every worker, regardless of whether they are paid, should have the right to do their job in a harassment-free environment. Interpretation of the previous law left a gaping hole that could jeopardize an intern’s due process rights and recourse. I am proud to have sponsored this legislation, and I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for signing it into law today and giving a voice to all interns subjected to discrimination,” said Council Member Jimmy Vacca

“As the chair of the Civil Rights Committee, I am so proud to have been able to ensure that New York City protects the rights of interns. I’m grateful that Mayor Bill de Blasio is signing this important bill into law. Intro 173 will ensure that our city’s interns know that they have the same protections from discrimination that paid employees enjoy. I look forward to working with the rest of the Council and the City’s Human Rights Commission to make sure that this valued segment of our city’s workforce is safe from discrimination and harassment of any kind,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy.

“With the Mayor’s signature on this important piece of legislation, interns who are especially vulnerable to abuse and structural discrimination, are among the least able to defend themselves, and are among the most in need of special protection, will be protected under the law,” said NYC Human Rights Commissioner Patricia L. Gatling. “Under the leadership of Mayor de Blasio, protecting the most vulnerable New Yorkers by broadly enforcing the City Human Rights Law defines us and is what make this city the greatest city in the world.”

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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Signs Bill to Protect Interns from Discrimination in the Workplace