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house Bill H.R. 653

Do Federal Unpaid Interns Need Protection from Harassment and Discrimination at Work?

Argument in favor

While current anti-discrimination laws protect unpaid federal interns, they aren’t explicitly mentioned in the law. That’s not good enough, as federal interns should know beyond a doubt that they can’t be discriminated against.

Sophia's Opinion
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05/17/2017
Gender identity and sexual orientation need to be added.
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05/17/2017
All people deserve protection from harassment. All people.
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Tara's Opinion
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05/15/2017
In this current atmosphere of rising sexism, it becomes even more important to send a signal to possible predators that interns shall not be discriminated against and intimidated.
Like (74)
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Argument opposed

This legislation would change nothing at all with respect to how anti-discrimination laws protect unpaid federal interns. They’re already protected by those laws and policies, Congress doesn’t need to spend time on this.

Brigette's Opinion
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05/17/2017
Revise this bill to include harassment due to sexual orientation and gender identity. Other than that, i agree
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Linda's Opinion
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05/15/2017
Already covered under other laws. Don't waste time on repeat bill
Like (24)
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operaman's Opinion
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05/16/2017
This is why we have Civil Courts. Apparently, Mr Cummings needs attention.
Like (17)
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed May 17th, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedJanuary 24th, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 653?

This bill would extend protections against workplace harassment and discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability to unpaid interns who work in the federal government.

While paid interns are already treated as employees and the federal government prohibits discrimination in the workplace through existing laws and policies, unpaid interns are not explicitly covered.

Impact

Unpaid federal interns, federal agencies, and the Dept. of Justice.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 653

$0.00
The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would have a negligible effect on the federal budget.

More Information

Of Note: According to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a sexual harassment case filed by an unpaid intern was dismissed in 1997 because the courts concluded that interns couldn’t be considered employees for the purpose of employment law.


In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) introduced this bill to ensure that unpaid interns receive the same protections against discrimination as employees:

“Due to a loophole in existing law, unpaid interns are not protected from discrimination and sexual harassment. This Committee has held a number of oversight hearings on employee misconduct, and in some instances, the misconduct involved the sexual harassment of interns. We are simply closing a loophole in existing law.”

This bill was passed unanimously by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has three Democratic cosponsors in the House.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user USDAgov)

AKA

Federal Intern Protection Act of 2017

Official Title

To amend title 5, United States Code, to protect unpaid interns in the Federal Government from workplace harassment and discrimination, and for other purposes.

    Gender identity and sexual orientation need to be added.
    Like (130)
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    Revise this bill to include harassment due to sexual orientation and gender identity. Other than that, i agree
    Like (161)
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    Shouldn't all people, regardless of position, paid or unpaid, be protected from harassment and discrimination? Our government should be the shining example of applying the principles of equality and respect.
    Like (269)
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    All people deserve protection from harassment. All people.
    Like (127)
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    In this current atmosphere of rising sexism, it becomes even more important to send a signal to possible predators that interns shall not be discriminated against and intimidated.
    Like (74)
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    Again, if congress did not exempt itself from the laws it passes, this would not be an issue.
    Like (64)
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    Duh! How is this even a question?
    Like (31)
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    No brainer. Whether paid or not, everyone has the right to be treated fairly in the workplace.
    Like (27)
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    Already covered under other laws. Don't waste time on repeat bill
    Like (24)
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    In all dealings of the federal government, paid or unpaid, intern, volunteer or paid staff discrimination and harassment are unacceptable.
    Like (20)
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    This is why we have Civil Courts. Apparently, Mr Cummings needs attention.
    Like (17)
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    If you need this law to make you act like a decent person to an intern you're an asshole.
    Like (17)
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    Why is this even a question?
    Like (15)
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    Paid or not, everyone has the right to be treated fairly at the workplace.
    Like (14)
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    Protection from hassassment should be a given no matter what job
    Like (13)
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    Countable member Matt R. said: "First of all this is already covered under other laws. Second the real issue I take with bills like this is that we have stretched the definition of harassment to include hearing anything that you don't like. The government really needs to be wary of becoming thought police." I agree with you, Matt! Furthermore, isn't anyone capable of standing up for himself anymore, without Big Brother coming to his rescue?! Have the liberals spawned a generation of weak, timid, overly sensitive, spineless snowflakes?! <smh> For the clueless: there are scores of self-help books on learning to be more ASSERTIVE! That doesn't mean aggressive, which is a common problem with liberals, who don't seem to know the difference. Well, I take that back. Liberals believe it's okay for THEM to be aggressive towards conservatives, but they don't believe it's okay for conservatives to be aggressive towards liberals!
    Like (13)
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    This doesn't go far enough. Why are they unpaid? Thats bs. If they are doing work they should be paid. Not harassed.
    Like (12)
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    Protections against workplace harassment and discrimination should be extended to everyone everywhere. Period. I would imagine this is at least implied somewhere in the law, but in the current environment of increased sexism, racism, xenophobia and bullying it certainly can't hurt to underscore that all are to be treated fairly regardless of status. I have personally known of situations where an intern was definitely sexually harassed but was afraid to say anything. Others had to step in to deal with the situation because the intern felt so powerless. It can be tough enough being an intern anyway since they are typically the lowest person on the food chain and it all rolls down hill. At the very least they should have the assurance they are protected from harassment or discrimination, which is why I support this bill. An extra layer of protection emphasizing fairness for the vulnerable can't really do any harm.
    Like (11)
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    This seems like an obvious choice. Revenue neutral for anyone that only cares about that? Easy Yea.
    Like (10)
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    This question seems like a joke. Sad that it's only now being addressed.
    Like (9)
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