Indiana residents who are unpaid interns may be concerned by a recent ruling from a federal district court. According to the court, an intern for a TV broadcaster could not file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the broadcaster because she was not paid and was not considered an employee. According to the woman who brought the suit against the company, she was lured into a hotel room by her supervisor under the pretext of talking about permanent employment.
The woman stated that the bureau chief tried to kiss her, and when she refused to let things go any further and left the hotel, no further mention was made of the possibility of being hired on full time. In spite of these circumstances, a judge stated that she could not make these claims because state laws did not protect unpaid interns. The woman has since moved back to her home of China because, according to her lawyer, she was terminated when she made these claims.
This case is only one of many where interns have been fighting for pay and protection. A few cases have even been won by interns seeking reimbursement for the work they do for companies. Still, it is an uphill battle for interns who have been filing lawsuits unsuccessfully against companies for years. According to the lawyer who represented the woman against the TV broadcasting company, there is a large hole in the law where intern rights are concerned.
If someone has been discriminated against or sexually harassed by their employer, they may have legal recourse. A lawyer could explain their rights and options and represent them in court if the need arose.
Source: CNN Money, “Unpaid interns not protected from sexual harassment“, Emily Jane Fox, October 09, 2013