UNPAID INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS ARE PROTECTED UNDER THE CALIFORNIA DISCRIMINATION LAWS

AB 1443 amended the Fair Employment and Housing Act list of individuals protected by the discrimination laws to include unpaid interns and volunteers.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act protects against discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status sex, gender gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status.

Government Code Section 12940 (c) was amended to affirm that it is an unlawful employment practice:   “For any person to discriminate against any person in the selection, termination, training, or other terms or treatment of that person in any apprenticeship training program, any other training program leading to employment, an unpaid internship, or another limited duration program to provide unpaid work experience for that person because of the race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of the person discriminated against.”

Further, “An employer may also be responsible for the acts of nonemployees, with respect to sexual harassment of employees, applicants, unpaid interns or volunteers, or persons providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace, where the employer, or its agents or supervisors, knows or should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. ”  An employer should protect all persons working  within its facilities and environment, whether or not paid, with this amendment.

The amendment also extended religious belief protections and religious accommodation requirements to anyone in an apprenticeship training program, an unpaid internship or any other program to provide unpaid experience for a person in the workplace or industry.

It is a recommended practice to include interns and volunteers in your company policy provisions that relate to discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and to have a Volunteer Handbook for those who provide services to your organization or company for their protection and yours.

 

 

 

 

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