A recent article in the New York Times discussed a new law giving unpaid interns in New York the right to sue if they are harassed or discriminated against by an employer. The legislation takes effect in June, a time of year when interns flood New York City seeking opportunities for experience and hopefully paid employment down the road. The article was of particular interest to me, as I had just successfully mediated a matter where discrimination claims against a well-known clothing designer had been brought by 16 former employees. While the employees were not interns, they had brought unpaid wage and racial discrimination claims against their former employer.
What became clear as the mediation progressed was that the plaintiffs did not realize that their claim, if it survived a motion to dismiss, would statistically be unlikely to ever see the inside of a courtroom. They also didn’t realize that the courts can move very slowly and that they might be looking at a process of two years or more, which would be not only disruptive to their lives, but also detrimental to their finances. If they lost the racial discrimination claims, which was the thrust of their case, they stood to recover almost nothing except lost wages, a claim the defendant clothing manufacturer had already agreed to pay once it was provided with proper records. At the request of their lawyer, I informed the plaintiffs of these issues.
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Topics: Employer Liability Issues, Employment Policies, Hiring & Firing, Mediation, Racial Discrimination, Unpaid Interns, Unpaid Wages, Wage and Hour
Published In: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Updates, Labor & Employment Updates
DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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