Unpaid internships may get you shafted in more ways than one. Legal eagles discovered that loopholes in the law may make unpaid interns unable to fight sexual harassment in the workplace.
A United States District Court judge ruled that unpaid television intern Lihuan Wang had no right to sue after her supervisor allegedly groped her and subsequently refused to give her a job. Why? Because Wang was unpaid and therefore technically couldn’t be considered an “employee” under New York law.
Very few states, including the District of Columbia and Oregon, have laws protecting interns, but most have loopholes that allow potential employers to get away with a lot of scary stuff–in Wang’s case, luring her to a hotel, trying to kiss and trying to grope her, then refusing to hire her once she rejected him. Awesome stuff, right?
Some experts point out that interns are basically on really long job applications, and that they should be protected as job applicants. Hopefully the law will eventually coincide with what’s ethically and morally right … especially considering unpaid internships may not even be legal within themselves.