Unpaid Interns May Finally be Protected

HR Resource
December 11, 2013 — 2,541 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

Interns are the people who an organization hires as a temporary arrangement for a particular period of time before they are made permanent employees or they are asked to leave. The time period varies from one place to another, but usually it starts from two months and can even go up to two years. Most of the time, this internship is done by students during their year break period or it is done after the completion of their course.

Before the Legislation

Many times these organizations go to elite college campuses and hire their students. In such cases, the organization is obligated to pay them a particular stipend. However, there are many cases when they don't pay them at all and students even agree to work just to get some relevant experience. It has been found that such unpaid employees, especially women, become the primary target of harassment in the organization. They become a victim of workplace discrimination. Earlier, these workers had to live with the fact that they are being harassed as they were helpless within the law, but now things might change for better.

After the Legislation

With an increase in the case of workplace harassment against these unpaid interns, a US lawmaker, Nancy Skinner, has decided to introduce legislation in the coming days that will protect such employees from all kinds of workplace discrimination. The current law against sexual harassment doesn't include people working as interns as they do not come under the category of employees. People with a bad mindset have taken full advantage of this loophole in the law and this problem needs to be addressed quickly. Nancy is of the opinion that interns don't have to give up their civil rights just because they have agreed to work for free.

This problem came into limelight when a girl from the Syracuse University complained of sexual harassment against her supervisor in a media company. The supervisor made full use of this loophole in the law and made the girl suffer even more by pursuing a case against her as she chose to raise her voice. With more number of students going for such internships as a result of intense competition, the amendment in the current law needs to be undertaken. It will not only protect the women but also men who are not really immune to workplace discrimination.

HR Resource