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HB 1216: Protect Interns from Workplace Harassment

Back to good ideas from Democrats: Representative Kelly Sullivan (D-13/Sioux Falls) last week filed House Bill 1216, a measure to protect interns from workplace abuse. The bill is titled, “An Act to revise certain provisions regarding sexual harassment,” but if I’m reading it right, HB 1216 adds protections for interns (defined as “a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, at an organization, industry, trade, or occupation in order to gain work experience or earn academic credit”) to South Dakota’s human rights chapter (SDCL 20-13), which covers unfair and discriminatory practices of all sorts.

HB 1216 also does all workers, intern or regular, a favor by doubling the time one has to file a charge under the human rights chapter with the state Division of Human Rights from 180 days to a full year after the discriminatory or unfair practice occurs.

Sullivan’s co-sponsors are fellow Democrats and neighbors Representative Erin Healy and Senator Reynold Nesiba. But Republicans, try not to let your partisan view of the sponsors prevent you from voting for this good idea. Lots of organizations employ interns, and while employers may give interns some of the lowliest work (and hey, someone has to sort the mail and scrub the toilet), there’s no reason to allow employers to violate interns’ human rights. And given the Legislature’s own very recent scandal involving a member’s abuse of power over Capitol interns and its fumbling response thereto, HB 1216 provides the Republican caucus an easy opportunity to demonstrate that it believes in basic and equal protection for all workers, including those with the least power in the workplace.

One Comment

  1. Debbo 2020-02-03 23:22

    We’ve already seen, as your hyperlinks remind us, that the SDGOP doesn’t have a problem with legislators preying on young interns and pages. They’re eager to police the sexual behavior of everyone else in SD, just not the old white guys in Pierre. Once again, the SDGOP proves to us that they have no moral or ethical core.

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