Jason Habinsky in Law360: NYC Intern Protections Will Start Domino Effect Across US

03/28/2014


New York City's vote to give interns the same protection from discrimination as regular workers closes a loophole exposed in a recent high-profile harassment case and will spur many jurisdictions, especially cities where students flock to further their careers, to enact similar provisions, experts said Thursday.

The city's move came after a Manhattan federal judge ruled in October that intern Lihuan Wang had no claim of harassment under the city's Human Rights Law.

Wang alleged that a manager at Phoenix Satellite Television US Inc. — part of a Hong Kong-based media company — groped and tried to kiss her while she was interning there. But U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel found, based on Second Circuit law, that unpaid workers were not employees under federal, state or city law.

“The Lihuan Wang case exposed a very large loophole in the law here in New York City,” said Jason Habinsky, a Haynes and Boone, LLP labor and employment partner. “And the decision went viral. People were offended by the notion that she could be discriminated against simply because she was an intern. It went way beyond the city, and the City Council was quick to respond.”

Excerpted from Law360, March 28, 2014. To view full article, click here (subscription required).

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