The 1933 New York Minimum Wage Act was Passed to Protect Unpaid Interns

In 1933 the New York Legislature passed the New York Minimum Wage Act.  Below is a section of the original New York Minimum Wage Act. The 1933 New York legislature clearly intended to protect today’s unpaid interns.

“The employment of women and minors in trade and industry in the state at wages unreasonably low and not fairly commensurate with the value of the services rendered is a matter of grave and vital public concern. Many women and minors employed for gain in the state are not as a class upon a level of equality in bargaining with their employers in regard to minimum fair wage standards, and “freedom of contract” as applied to their relations with their employers is illusory. Since a very large percentage of such workers are obliged from their week-to-week wages to support themselves and others who are dependent upon them in whole or in part, they are, by reason of their necessitous circumstances, forced to accept whatever wages are offered them. Judged by any reasonable standard, wages are in many cases fixed by chance and caprice and the wages accepted are often found to bear no relation to the fair value of the service rendered. Women and minors employed for gain are peculiarly subject to the over-reaching of inefficient, harsh or ignorant employers and under unregulated competition where no adequate machinery exists for the effective regulation and maintenance of minimum fair wage standards, the standards such as exist tend to be set by the least conscionable employers. In the absence of any effective minimum fair wage rates for women and minors, the constant lowering of wages by unscrupulous employers constitutes a serious form of unfair competition against other employers, reduces the purchasing power of the workers and threatens the stability of industry. The evils of oppressive, unreasonable and unfair wages as they affect women and minors employed in the state are such as to render imperative the exercise of the police power of the state for the protection of industry and of the women and minors employed therein and of the public interest of the community at large in their health and well-being and in the prevention of the deterioration of the race.” Section 550 (Labor Law).

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