Being able to participate in an internship can be a great boost of experience for young people who will soon be looking for permanent employment. Unfortunately, not all of the internship positions offer the participating party any form of income. Unpaid internships have been the subject of debate as of recently, and as more negative information comes to light about such positions, such as how sexual harassment is dealt with, unpaid positions may become a thing of the past.
As many Florida residents know, there are employment laws in place that help protect employees from harassment and other negative behavior in the workplace. However, these same laws are not applicable for unpaid interns because they are not considered to be actual employees. This discrepancy has led to interns being sexually harassed while performing their duties as an intern but has left them unable to gain reparations through legal action against the harasser because they are not protected under employment laws.
An unpaid intern from New York filed a suit against her superior after he manipulated her into coming to his hotel room under the ruse that he wanted to discuss her work performance. He then allegedly tried to kiss the young woman and touched her inappropriately. She was able to stop his advances and left the room, though she states that after the incident she was no longer considered for a permanent position with the company. She received no compensation for damages resulting from the event because certain laws did not apply to her unpaid intern status.
As of now, only one state has extended its law to protect unpaid interns from sexual harassment. Should Florida residents find themselves concerned with this issue, they may wish to express their views in hopes that laws will be modified in order to further protect unpaid interns in their state. No one should face harassment in the workplace, and those who do should be able to seek legal action against the wrongdoer in order to help prevent future cases and gain proper compensation.
Source: CNN Money, Unpaid interns not protected from sexual harassment, Emily Jane Fox, Oct. 9, 2013