It almost seems as if internships are now a prerequisite to getting a career. While there are a number of people in Queens who are searching for these coveted internships, even if they are unpaid, they may not realize that interns often don't have the same sorts of protections that an actual employee has. It is more than just pay, but even something as basic as protection against sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. Though Mayor Bill de Blasio just signed a bill that would protect interns against sexual harassment, there are several things missing from this new law.
Earlier in the week, we mentioned the allegations of gender-based discrimination at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A lawyer has testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee regarding the retaliation her supervisor took following her complaint of gender discrimination, but that is not the only kind of workplace discrimination that is allegedly plaguing the bureau.
When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created following the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010, there was considerable discussion about whether the bureau should be created at all. Ultimately, the bureau was created, but current reports of discrimination based on gender may have some legislators talking of disbanding the organization.
When many people in Queens are being considered for a position, they are often asked to agree to a background check. Employers seem to think that they can find out more about an applicant by hiring an outside company to dig up his or her past than by working with the individual. Sadly, sometimes the results of those checks may lead to an employer passing on the applicant for someone else, and sometimes using a background check to pass over someone could be considered hiring discrimination.
Most people in Manhattan have paid sick time to care for themselves, their spouses or their children, but when the sick time an employer gives is not enough, many people can turn to the Family and Medical Leave Act. FMLA allows employees to take up to three months of unpaid leave to either recover from a medical condition or to help care for other eligible family members. During that time, an employee cannot be fired, nor can an employer use the employee's leave against him or her after his or her return.
Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc. is a well-performing retailer that has claimed a significant portion of the clothing market. As such, its stores are often busy and its employees are expected to work long hours. Whenever an employee works over 40 hours per week, however, he or she is due overtime pay, which is a requirement under both federal and New York state laws. Should an employee be denied that pay, he or she may choose to file a wage and hour lawsuit against his or her employer.
It is no surprise to many women in New York City that they often earn less than their male counterparts. The wage gap has been improving, but that doesn't yet mean that employers are paying women with the same experience and in the same roles as men the same wage. Unfortunately, this form of gender discrimination is a widespread problem.
Last week, the New York City Council voted in favor of granting greater workplace protections to workers who are not paid for their services. The vote is a major win for the city's interns, who frequently work only for class credit or nothing at all. The bill offers these employees the right to file a claim for sexual harassment that has occurred in the workplace.
"The big print giveth, and the fine print taketh away" according to the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. This is particularly true in employment severance agreements, where the fine print often include terms like "general release of claims," "non-disparagement" and "covenant not to sue." Employers rely on such language in employment and severance agreements in an attempt to end the threat of lawsuits and in return departing employees receive money or benefits. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") has recently found issue with one of the country's largest companies, CVS Pharmacy Inc., claiming that the language contained in CVS' severance agreements was "overly broad" and "misleading."