On April 15, 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded protection under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) to include unpaid interns. The amendment effectively overturns the U.S. Southern District of New York’s October 2013 decision in Wang v. Phoenix Satellite Television US, Inc., which was previously discussed on the Ogletree Deakins blog. The Wang decision held that unpaid interns do not qualify as employees under the NYCHRL and thus could not file discrimination and harassment claims against companies for which they performed work. The new law protects interns under the NYCHRL “without regard” to salary or wages, defining “intern” as “an individual who performs work for an employer on a temporary basis whose work: (a) provides training or supplements training given in an educational environment such that the employability of the individual performing the work may be enhanced; (b) provides experience for the benefit of the individual performing the work; and (c) is performed under the close supervision of existing staff.” As described by one New York City Council member, the new law “closes the loophole” that prevented the NYCHRL from protecting uncompensated interns. There is similar legislation to amend the New York State Human Rights Law currently pending in Albany. As a result of the amended NYCHRL, New York City employers should ensure that their anti-harassment and equal opportunity policies apply to any unpaid interns.
Three bills were introduced in the Senate and the Assembly that would provide additional protections for workers affected by plant closings, transfers and mass layoffs. Bills S1956, S1958, A2934 and A2936 would allow workers affected by an employer’s violation of the plant closing notification laws to request a 180-day suspension of their mortgage loan payments, and would allow workers affected by a plant closing access to job training through a tuition waiver program at public and county colleges across the state.
Ninth Circuit Issues Pro-Employer and Pro-Union Ruling Against Worker With a Long History of Harassing Comments
In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants in a case involving the discharge of a union employee following his alleged whistleblowing on his union’s former president. The court found that Stanford adequately proffered legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the plaintiff’s discharge, including his long history of inappropriate and harassing comments such as racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks about his colleagues.
On October 1, 2018, San Francisco’s amendments to its Fair Chance Ordinance (FCO) took effect. The FCO is San Francisco’s “ban the box” equivalent that regulates employers’ use of applicants’ and employees’ arrest and conviction information.