Right now, unpaid interns in California are not legally protected from workplace discrimination and harassment. This is because unpaid interns are non-employees so these protections do not apply to these employees.
However, this may soon change if a California legislator has any say. A legislator is planning to propose a bill this month to protect unpaid interns from harassment and discrimination at work. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act currently prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, but this law does not apply to unpaid interns. The soon-to-be proposed legislation could change this.
The legislator is planning to propose the bill to protect unpaid workers in California. The legislator said that many young adults use unpaid internships to try and get into their desired professional field. Unpaid internships are fairly common in the U.S., and all employees deserve the right to be protected from harassment and discrimination but current laws don’t include unpaid interns.
If California passes any laws protecting unpaid interns from discrimination and harassment, they would join only one other state. Only Oregon has a law that protects unpaid interns from employment discrimination and harassment.
Unpaid interns deserve the same employee rights as other employees. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can be very traumatizing and can cause poor job performance and even termination.
Discrimination and harassment can affect all types of employees, paid or unpaid. Employees deserve to be protected from unlawful actions like discrimination and harassment. Employees who have been victims of discrimination or harassment can pursue legal action against their employer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may also take action against employers who violate federal employment laws that are supposed to protect employees.
Source: The Huffington Post, “California Law Would Finally Protect Unpaid Interns From Harassment And Discrimination,” Lydia O’Connor, Dec. 10, 2013