Judge: Unpaid interns not protected from sex harassment in NYC

Oct. 10, 2013 at 2:57 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- A federal judge has ruled New York City's human rights law does not protect unpaid interns from sexual harassment.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel dismissed a lawsuit brought by Lihuan Wang, a former intern at the Chinese-language Phoenix Satellite Television US, the New York Post reported. Castel found that Wang, because she was not paid, was not a Phoenix employee.

Wang, who is now back in China, became a Phoenix intern in 2010. In her lawsuit, she said that Zhengzhu Liu groped her after inviting her to his hotel room to talk about possible paid employment at Phoenix.

Liu invited Wang to stay with him at a hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., when she asked him months later about her future, she said.

Phoenix investigated Wang's story and dismissed Liu last year, the Post said.

Castel did not dismiss another part of Wang's lawsuit. She is seeking damages from Phoenix because she was not hired while the company says she never applied.

Wang's lawyer said part of the suit may be transferred to Washington where suits brought by other Phoenix interns may be heard.

Lawsuits by unpaid interns have become common recently. In many of them, interns argue they are treated like employees -- except for the paycheck.

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