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De Blasio backs extending harassment protections to unpaid interns

Photo by Flickr user afagen Photo by Flickr user afagen

Earlier this month, a Manhattan federal judge ruled that a young woman couldn't sue her boss for sexual harassment because she wasn't technically his employee.

“Protection of employees does not extend to unpaid interns,” U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel wrote in his Oct. 3 decision, which threw out Lihuan Wang's lawsuit against her former boss at the U.S. office of Phoenix Satellite Television, a Hong Kong-based media company.

Wang alleged that Zhengzhu Liu groped her and then refused to consider hiring her after she rebuffed his advances.

Mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio and other local elected officials have joined in denouncing the decision as shameful, arguing that this is a loophole that needs to be closed.

"No one should ever be denied protection against sexual harassment in the workplace," the public advocate said. "Period."

City council member Gale Brewer said she would propose legislation that would extend workplace harassment protections to unpaid interns, who are still not covered by the New York City Human Rights law.

New York State Assembly members Joe Borelli and Linda Rosenthal said they would do the same on the state level.

 
 
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