PA interns may see more rights in the workplace to protect them from harassment

Local News

The ‘Me Too’ movement has seen a number of changes being made in workplaces across the country.  And now, one lawmaker is looking to make yet another change; making sure interns have the same protections as other employees. 

The bill would include interns as employees in Pennsylvania’s non-discrimination protections.  A move supporters say is long overdue.

Kristen Houser, with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, says, “Interns are at particular risk of exploitation; inappropriate advances in the workplace.”  She says right now, many interns in the state don’t have adequate legal recourse if they’re the subject of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. 

Houser says, “If you’re not technically an employee… it may not rise to the level to fit the legal definitions defined within protections.”

It’s a gap State Representative Chris Rabb is looking to close.  He’s introduced House Bill 2282, which amends the state’s Human Relations Act.  He says, “It would include interns as employees in Pennsylvania’s non-discrimination protections.” 

The bill would also require employers with at least four employees to provide online, interactive training, covering all forms of harassment and discrimination.  Representative Rabb says it would be a win-win for employees and employers, as well as customers. 

Rabb tells us, “I believe that if this were already state law, it could have prevented the racist incident that took place at Starbucks in Philadelphia recently, that got national attention.”

And, Kristen Houser says everyone from interns to CEO’s would benefit from these changes, saying, “Everybody  has the right to a workplace that’s free of harassment and exploitation.”

And, House Bill 2282 does have bi-partisan support.  It is currently in committee.

–Matt Heckel, JET 24 Action News

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