Federal Intern Protection Act of 2015by Representative Elijah E. Cummings
Posted on 2016-01-11
CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
The bill before us, the Federal Intern Protection Act, would close a loophole in Federal employment law that currently leaves unpaid interns open to discrimination and sexual harassment.
Earlier this year our committee held a hearing at which we heard testimony about sexual harassment and retaliation in an EPA regional office. During that hearing, both Chairman Chaffetz and I expressed our disgust at the exploitation of these young women and demanded that action be taken to prevent this in the future.
Unfortunately, the act of harassing unpaid interns on the basis of race, religion, age, or, in this case, sex is not prohibited by Federal law. Under current law, victims rely on the discretion of managers to prevent the recurrence of this behavior, something that does not always occur.
As one witness testified: ``Even after finding out about the numerous harassment victims, the direct reporting manager continued to feed the harasser a steady diet of young women.'' As we saw at our hearing, allowing this kind of behavior to go unchecked can have serious consequences on the lives and careers of those who are interested in government service and on those who are simply trying to be all that God meant for them to be. There are many unpaid interns who are willing to commit to working for the Federal Government. We should protect them from this kind of despicable behavior.
I want to take a moment to thank Chairman Chaffetz for helping us to move this bill through the committee expeditiously and to bring it to the floor. As a matter of fact, in our committee, we received a unanimous vote on it, and I am hoping that there will be a unanimous vote on the floor today.
I thank him and I thank his staff and our staff for pulling all of this together to get us to this moment.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.