In issuing his Oct. 3 ruling, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Kevin Castel noted that the City Council has modified the law several times over the years to extend its protections, but none of those changes cover unpaid interns. They're not on the payroll, so they're not considered employees under the law.
Castel's decision stems from a January lawsuit filed by 22-year-old Lihuan Wang, who claimed that just two weeks into her internship at Phoenix Satellite Television US's New York location, her supervisor lured her to a hotel room under the pretense of a job-performance review and tried to grope and kiss her "by force."
In the lawsuit, Wang said she pushed the supervisor away and ran out of the hotel room. She approached him about potential job opportunities several months later, and says he asked her to stay with him in a hotel room in Atlantic City. She refused.
The supervisor was fired last year after Phoenix Satellite Television, a Chinese-language broadcast company, investigated Wang's allegations.
The law was last amended in 2005. Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio, who oversaw that modification, told the News, "No one should ever be denied protection against sexual harassment in the workplace. Period."