“Overlook the Value of Interns at Great Peril”

Here’s a New York Times piece by David Carr that ties in to what I mentioned earlier — that Condé Nast, for one company, has decided to eliminate intern positions rather than face lawsuits or deal with the Fair Labor Standards Act: Overlook the Value of Interns at Great Peril – NYTimes.com.

Here’s one paragraph:

Paid internships, properly conceived and administered, could bring a diversity of region, class and race to an industry where the elevators are full of people who look alike, talk alike and think alike. Pie in the sky? Not at Atlantic Media. Three years ago, the company made the decision to end unpaid internships and go to yearlong fellowships that had meaningful tasks, an educational component, a living wage attached and, get this, health insurance.

That’s gives you an idea of where Carr is going.

UPDATE 4/16/2014. From today’s New York Times: Unpaid Interns Gain the Right to Sue – NYTimes.com. It’s Mayor de Blasio who has made this happen (for City interns), in response to a federal judge’s determination that an unpaid intern could not sue for sexual harassment:

Thousands of interns poised to flood New York City’s offices and institutions this summer may be unpaid. But come June, their legal standing will be improved.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday signed into law a measure intended to ensure that unpaid interns in the city will have the right to sue if they are harassed or discriminated against by an employer — a right, it turns out, that was not reflected in the city’s civil rights code.

The legislation, which passed unanimously in the City Council and takes effect in June, was prompted by a sexual harassment suit brought last year by an unpaid intern in the New York office of a Chinese news agency, Phoenix Satellite Television, who said she was harassed and groped by her supervisor.

The harassment claim was thrown out by a federal judge, who found that the intern did not qualify as an employee because she was not being paid, and thus did not have the standing to sue under New York State and City human rights laws, which prohibit discrimination against workers.

 

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