House Backs Protections for Federal Interns Against Harassment and Discrimination

U.S. Architect of the Capitol

Interns at federal agencies would no longer fall into a loophole that denies them protections against sexual harassment in the workplace, under a bill approved by the House on Monday.

The Federal Intern Protection Act would amend Title V of the U.S. Code -- which governs the federal workforce -- to provide interns all the protections afforded to regular federal employees. The protections would include those given to federal workers under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Proponents of the bill noted that in the 1997 case O’Connor v. Davis, a court ruled that existing law did not cover a plaintiff asked to participate in an orgy, among other evidence of workplace harassment, because she was not an employee. The intern bill would also prevent discrimination based on age or disabilities.

“This is common-sense legislation that should have become law long ago,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and author of the bill. “Allowing this kind of behavior to go unchecked can have serious consequences on the lives and careers of young people interested in government service, and I am encouraged that the House passed our bill with unanimous support.”

The oversight panel held a hearing in July in which several whistleblowers at the Environmental Protection Agency spoke of an employee who repeatedly targeted women -- including interns -- at the agency. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, accused EPA management of harboring a “predator who was fed a steady diet of interns.”

Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., said everyone in the federal workforce, paid or otherwise, should be protected from harassment.

“It is unacceptable that interns working in the U.S. government continue to be denied the same safeguards that are provided to employees,” Meng said.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., plans to introduce companion legislation in the upper chamber. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.