Federal Intern Protection Act of 2015by Representative Grace Meng
Posted on 2016-01-11
MENG. Madam Speaker, I rise today to express strong support for
H.R. 3231, the Federal Intern Protection Act of 2015.
Madam Speaker, internships are increasingly considered a resume necessity for entry-level positions in both the public and private sector. More and more, businesses, organizations, and government agencies consider internships a prerequisite experience to full-time employment. In fact, on college campuses across this country, career service officers push their students to obtain competitive internships because they provide valuable professional experiences and are considered essential.
What we often forget is that unpaid interns are amongst the most vulnerable of workers. They need these internships to succeed in their careers. Yet, they are powerless to protect themselves from discrimination and sexual harassment. Facing these challenges can be devastating to young interns at the beginning of their careers.
One year ago, a brave and intelligent young woman, Christina, came to my district office to talk to me about her experiences as an unpaid intern. Christina had faced sexual harassment. She had no legal recourse, but she refused to stay silent. She came to my office with a fellow college student, Anna. They told me about the experiences of many young college students who had faced sexual harassment as unpaid interns. I stand here on their behalf today because we can do something about this.
State legislatures across this country have started to listen. New York, Oregon, Illinois, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and New York City have all passed some form of protection for unpaid interns.
Unpaid internships in Federal agencies, in particular, are coveted and competitive positions. The Federal Intern Protection Act of 2015 directly addresses this vulnerability by extending existing Federal protections under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to unpaid interns working for the Federal Government. We can provide vulnerable interns in the Federal Government with the protections they deserve.
I would like to thank my colleague, Representative Cummings, for his leadership on this issue. I also thank Representative Scott of Virginia and Ms. Eleanor Holmes Norton and their staff for all of their hard work.