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House approves bill to expand rights of unpaid interns

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] approved legislation [HR 3231] Monday that would expand rights of unpaid interns in the federal government. Currently, unpaid interns are not classified as employees, leaving them unprotected from discrimination under the Civil Rights Act [text]. This bill only involves unpaid interns in the federal government, with two other proposed bills focusing on unpaid interns in congressional offices and interns in the private sector at large. The bill moves next to the Senate [official website] after passing the House with a vote of 414-0 [The Hill report].

The matter of unpaid internships has been a controversial issue [NUS backgrounder] over the past few years. Eric Glatt, one of the plaintiffs in the Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. [text] case that found unpaid internships legal [JURIST report], stated, "[e]very intern who thinks something is questionable has to litigate it. It's a terrible, terrible burden. Why burden the most vulnerable possible employee with all the heavy work?" The lower court's 2013 decision in the case sparked other similar lawsuits, prompting Warner Music Group Corp to agree in June to pay over $4.2 million to hundreds of interns.

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