Current or former intern, or just interested in the internship economy? Come to our next meeting!
We’ll meet at the Goethe Institut Wyoming Building, 5 E3rd St (corner of Bowery and E 3rd St, not the main Goethe Institut building), at 5:30PM on Sunday 6/29.
This meeting will be focused on catching newcomers up on recent events, and figuring out what someone just getting involved now can do. Despite rulings in favor of unpaid interns and legislation granting them workplace protections, some employers still freely use internships to bypass minimum wage laws. Furthermore, recent legislation does not in fact extend workplace protections to all volunteer labor.
Intern Labor Rights recently sent a letter to Governor Cuomo in response to S5951A, a New York State bill to extend “the same civil rights protections as paid interns” to unpaid interns:
Dear Governor Cuomo:
We share New York State’s concern over the civil rights of unpaid interns, and we acknowledge that signing S5951A into law will provide unpaid interns with more legal protections against discrimination than they currently can rely on.
Yet we remain disappointed that this amendment to the NYS Human Rights Law is too narrowly construed to accomplish everything it should. By only protecting some unpaid interns—those who meet the bill’s unnecessary definition—it leaves tens of thousands of unpaid interns in New York State, quite possibly the majority, without those protections. In short, the bill does not acknowledge employers’ widespread noncompliance with state and federal labor laws regarding unpaid trainees, and effectively excludes interns in such circumstances from the state’s civil rights protections under this amendment.
Alas, all the legislature had to do was decline to define the term “unpaid intern,” instead leaving it up to real-world usage to determine who would be covered by this amendment.
So while we note that this is a step in the right direction, it is a smaller step than we believe the Assembly, Senate, and Governor understand. We urge New York State not to put this issue behind it after passing this amendment, but rather to work on expanding civil rights to ALL unpaid interns, trainees, fellows, volunteers, and other workplace personnel not already covered by the Human Rights Law. And we urge the State to open its eyes to the widespread wage theft and other labor law abuses being conducted under the guise of unpaid internships and to take bold, decisive action to crack down on this practice in future sessions of the government.
Intern Labor Rights
You can get the PDF here.
See you on Sunday!