Student interns are provided protection from gender discrimination and sexual harassment in their student capacity by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA), and as employees by Title IX of the CRA. However unpaid student interns are neither considered students nor employees, and thus slip through the cracks of coverage provided by Titles VII & IX. They are working unprotected by the law from sexual harassment and sexual discrimination. The Department of Labor has two classifications created by regulations, which provide protections to workers not legally employees, just as unpaid interns are not employees.
The Department of Labor should create a classification with regulations, which would provide discrimination and sexual harassment protection to unpaid student interns and provide clarification of the requirements for an intern to be unpaid without violating Wage and Hour law.*
There are currently two classification of workers that are not employees but are provided protection by DOL regulations. These regulations are needed because: 1) student interns currently have a greater chance of being a victim of sexual harassment as an intern than either as a student or employee, both of which have protection by the CRA, and 2) there is a great deal of uncertainty in the law, including Circuit splits as to when an unpaid worker is or is not an employee, that has bred a large number of class action lawsuits over the past year. This confusion likely has also resulted in massive amounts of minimum wage violations by employers, which will spawn detrimental litigation upon those employers.
*The topic of wages and the philosophical, ethical, and moral debate over whether interns should be paid or not is outside the scope of this Note.
- Sexual harassment,
- sexual discrimination,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/troy_warner/1/