Earlier this month, a judge ruled that unpaid interns aren't protected from sexual harassment since they aren't covered by the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But now a state lawmaker is aiming to change that.

State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) announced yesterday that she's introducing legislation to close that loophole which basically allows unpaid interns to be sexually harassed because they aren't being paid. She said, "With the growing prevalence of unpaid internships and the extreme pressure on young people to build up resumes and references in a tough economy, the law needs to change to protect this extremely vulnerable class of workers. When it comes to protecting interns from sexual harassment and discrimination, there needs to be universal agreement and swift action when the legislature returns to Albany in January."

The recent case involved an intern, a Syracuse University student, who says she was sexually harassed, kissed and groped by a supervisor at her media company internship. Krueger's press release referred to that as well as another from 19 years ago:


Similarly, judges have also dismissed sexual harassment suits in New York brought under the federal civil rights law, such as the 1994 case of Bridget O’Connor, who worked as an unpaid intern at the Rockland Psychiatric Center in Rockland County. Doctors at the center allegedly began to refer to her as Miss Sexual Harassment, told her she should participate in an orgy, and one doctor suggested that she remove her clothing before meeting with him. Despite all this, a federal appeals court confirmed in O’Connor v. Davis that because she was unpaid, she did not meet the definition of an employee and therefore was not entitled to protection under federal civil rights laws.

Krueger's bill would "define internships, explicitly ban workplace sexual harassment of interns, and apply general workplace civil rights protections to interns." It's co-sponsored by State Senators Terry Gipson (D-Rhinebeck, Dutchess County), George Latimer (D-Rye, Westchester County), and José Peralta (D-Queens).

Here's hoping Albany will pass this.