Top advocacy groups create resource to protect interns in workplace

  

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV), Partners In Prevention, and Women’s Foundation have developed a new strategy to protect interns from sexual harassment and sexual violence in the workplace. The groups announced the launch of the Intern Resource Network website, which allows users to not only properly identify what is unlawful behavior and what rights they have protecting victims, but also provides an interactive map outlining which services are available in various parts of the State.

The website is specifically aimed at protecting both male and female student interns, who the MCADSV feels may be vulnerable to unfamiliar power dynamics in the workplace. The Intern Resource Network is aimed at empowering college students, but specifically women, who face issues of sexual harassment and assault in both on and off campus settings. The website allows women a secure place for both men and women to learn about what is inappropriate in the workplace and the access to report such incidents, should they so desire.

The MCADSV feels that the Intern Resource Network is a step forward in ending domestic and sexual violence. For them Missouri will only see progress through education, alliance, research, and public policy.

President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation, Wendy Dole applauds the website and feels that such knowledge is power.

“[The] Women’s Foundation is dedicated to removing barriers for women so they can achieve their full economic and leadership potential. As long as sexual harassment exists and is enabled, that presents a barrier for women to advance professionally and to lead in the future… we are proud to support MCADSV and the Intern Resource Network, which will empower countless young women to learn their rights, prepare for internships, and identify sexual assault,” she said.

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits discrimination of any kind of discrimination based on sex or gender in any schools or programs receiving federal assistance.

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,” outlines Title IX.

One of the designers of the website, Prevention Director at MCADSV, Matthew Huffman said, “We wanted to ensure that students, advisors and site supervisors had the most comprehensive resource available… Our goal is to equip students with the information to know the full extent of their rights under Title IX, while also encouraging employers to create workplaces that are safe and equitable.”

Both Republican and Democrat Missouri lawmakers have praised the website. Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson says the website will be useful in creating a healthy and safe work environment. US Senator Claire McCaskill mentioned that sexual harassment was a “serious issue,” when she was an intern in Jefferson City. McCaskill was one of the first to donate to MCADSV when she heard about the resource.

“It’s clear [sexual harassment is] a problem that persists, often with devastating consequences for too many young women… So I’m really proud to support this new resource that’ll help give interns navigating the workplace for the very first time a place to turn to get reliable, confidential information and the tools to help combat this crime,” McCaskill said.