First you can’t get paid, now you can’t fight against sexual harassment. New York City interns are having the worst year ever. In 2010, Lihuan Wang was an unpaid intern at Phoenix Satellite Television in New York. During her internship Wang alleges that her boss grabbed her butt and tried to kiss her. But Manhattan Federal Court Judge Kevin Castel tossed that claim last week, finding that only paid workers are covered by the city’s human rights law.
“Protection of employees does not extend to unpaid interns,” Castel wrote Oct. 3.
He said the City Council has amended the New York City Human Rights Law several times in recent years to cover more situations but has failed to shield interns.“This is terrible,” seethed Wang’s lawyer, Lynne Bernabei. “There is no logical reason to allow an intern who is young and vulnerable to be sexually harassed.”
City Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) said Wednesday she will introduce legislation to close the loophole that left Wang out in the cold.
Unpaid workers are particularly vulnerable to harassment and “should be covered,” she said.
Oregon and Washington, D.C., have passed such revisions.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who headed the Council committee that oversaw the last overhaul of the city’s human rights law in 2005, agreed.
“No one should ever be denied protection against sexual harassment in the workplace. Period,” the Democratic mayoral nominee said.
Brewer said the Council was unaware of the issue in 2005.
Wang is still moving her lawsuit along due to a retaliation charge. Wang states that she wasn’t hired after her internship was over because she declined her boss, Zhengzhu Liu’s, advances.