As we previously posted on April 16, 2014 (click here), the recently-passed “unpaid intern” amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law (the “NYCHRL”) will become effective this weekend on June 14, 2014. The timing of the amendments could not be more appropriate as many New York City employers are in the early days of their summer internship programs. The amendments broaden the scope of the existing NYCHRL protections to include unpaid interns, who will now have the same rights as employees to sue employers for discrimination and harassment based upon their age, sex, race, national origin, disability or sexual orientation, amongst other protected class categories.
Under the amended statute, “interns” are defined as temporary workers, closely supervised by existing staff, whose work provides them with training or supplements an educational experience in a way that is intended to benefit those individuals. This definition applies equally to all interns regardless of whether they are paid or unpaid. If they have not done so already, New York City employers are strongly encouraged to review their discrimination and harassment policies and procedures to ensure that they are adequately protecting interns (and themselves) under the new amendments.