5 Things Every Intern in NYC Should Know about the City’s Anti-Discrimination Law

Did you know that even if you are just here for the summer, employers cannot discriminate against you based on your race, age, or immigration status and other categories?

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As students and young professionals pour into NYC this summer for internship opportunities, it’s important for them to know they are protected against sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace under the City’s Human Rights Law, even if they are unpaid. New York is one of just a handful jurisdictions in the country that protect unpaid interns from workplace harassment.

Here are 5 key tips every intern should know while working in NYC this summer:

1: Every intern in NYC is protected against discrimination and harassment in the workplace, no questions asked.

Whether you’re paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time, all interns working in NYC are fully protected from discrimination, bias, and harassment in the workplace under the NYC Human Rights Law. NYC has one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country, protecting interns against discrimination in 18 broad categories, including race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and even criminal history. The NYC Commission on Human Rights can fine violators up to $250,000, award victims monetary damages and provide training to employers on the NYC Human Rights Law.

Commission General Information Card

2: It is illegal in NYC for employers to retaliate against interns for reporting discrimination or harassment.

Many interns may think “If I keep my head down, work hard, and don’t cause trouble, I may get hired permanently.” While working hard may land you a job, no one should accept discrimination or harassment in the workplace. It is illegal in NYC for employers to retaliate against interns for reporting discrimination or harassment, so no one can prematurely end an internship, deny interns pay, or refuse to hire you an intern as a result of reporting discrimination to the Commission or even opposing discrimination internally.

3: Even if you’re just here for the summer, you’re covered under the law.

All summer interns working in any of the five NYC boroughs are protected from discrimination under the NYC Human Rights Law, regardless of whether they permanently reside in New York City. As long as the discriminatory act happened within one year of reporting it to the Commission, they are covered by the Law.

4: Filing a complaint is super easy.

Report Discrimination online at NYC.gov/HumanRights

The best way to report discrimination to the Commission is by calling 718–722–3131 or by calling 311 and asking for the “NYC Commission on Human Rights.” Interns can also report discrimination on the Commission’s website here. The Commission encourages interns to report discrimination even if they wish to remain anonymous since the Commission can launch its own investigations even where there is no named victim.

5: Reporting discrimination helps prevent future acts of discrimination.

Discrimination is personal and often hard to talk about. But whether you are the victim of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, ageism, or discrimination because of your immigration status, it’s important to step forward and report it. Speaking up helps the Commission hold violators accountable and ensures that employers don’t get away with discriminating against others in the future.

Report discrimination or harassment by calling the NYC Commission on Human Rights at 718–722–3131. Visit NYC.gov/HumanRights for more information.

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