Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Signs Bill to Protect Interns from Discrimination in the Workplace

April 15, 2014

Mayor de Blasio: Good afternoon, everyone. The bill before us – Intro 173-A – would amend the city's administrative code in relation to prohibition of discrimination against workplace interns. The bill is meant to clarify, for those trying to interpret the human rights law in New York City, or who are interpreting it too narrowly with respect to paid and unpaid interns, that interns are protected from discrimination in the workplace to the same degree as an employee in that workplace is.
The city council committee on civil rights held a public hearing on this proposed measure on March 17, 2014 and approved an amended version of the legislation on March 25. The full council voted to approve this amended version on March 26.
I am joined today by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the bill's prime sponsors – Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Jimmy Vacca – and the city's Human Rights Commissioner, Patricia Gatling.
Let me begin by inviting comments from Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.


Mayor de Blasio: Thank you very much. I want to thank everyone who testified – we appreciate the views expressed by all. I have decided to sign this bill and I'd like to just make a few comments before I do.  New York City is fortunate to have one of the expansive human rights laws in the nation. More work. Nevertheless, it is needed to ensure that New Yorkers are fully protected from discrimination. This legislation will clarify that interns – paid or unpaid – are entitled to he full protections guaranteed to employees under the city's human rights law. It addresses a recent federal court decision that a woman in our city was not protected from sexual workplace harassment solely because she was an intern. This is unacceptable. The human rights law is not focused on an individual's title. The point of our human rights law is to keep workplaces free of impermissible discrimination. Without intending to limit current provisions of the law covering interns, including paragraphs one, two, and four, of section 8-107, and without relieving the courts of their obligation to interpret every provision of the law broadly in favor of discrimination plaintiffs, this legislation underscores the fact that all interns are entitled to a workplace free from discrimination.  Signing this important piece of legislation reaffirms this administration's commitment to aggressively defending human rights in our city.

I want to thank Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership. I also want to thank Borough President Gale Brewer, who has worked tirelessly to help see this bill through, both on the council and as borough president. Finally I want to thank the council sponsors of Intro 173A – council members Jimmy Vacca, Margaret Chin, Andrew Cohen, Costa Constantinides, Rory Lancman, Darlene Mealy, Ritchie Torres, Andy King, Marie del Carmen Arroyo, Laurie Cumbo, Helen Rosenthal, Matt Eugene, Inez Barron, Elizabeth Crowley, David Greenfield, Jimmy Van Bramer, and Jumaane Williams.

Finally, thanks again to Commissioner Patricia Gatling of the Human Rights Commission for working with the council on this important bill. Our administration looks forward to working with the council in the future to ensure that all New Yorkers have the full protections of our human rights law and that every provision of the law is strongly enforced in accordance with the Local Civil Rights Restoration Act of 2005.

Y un frase en español.

[speaks Spanish]

With that, please accompany me to the table and we will sign the bill.

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Mayor de Blasio Signs Bill to Protect Interns from Discrimination in the Workplace