Do interns have the same rights as paid employees under the hostile work inviroment rules?

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Do interns have the same rights as paid employees under the hostile work inviroment rules?

Asked on May 10, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

What "hostile work environment" rules are you referring to?

If the intern has been the victim of discrimination or harassment based on a specifically protected category--for example, under federal law, due to your race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability--then the intern probably would have a legal claim or complaint, though it's not clear what it would be worth; since interns are not paid, by definition, the intern cannot lose money due to the improper actions, which limits what the intern could potentially recover.

However, apart from specifically protected categories (e.g. race, sex, etc.) employers are allowed to be as hostile as they like: they can be dispectful, overbearing, create a too-stressful workplace, etc. Only hostility towards those groups speficially protected by law is illegal.


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