Sacchi v. IHC Health Services, No. 18-4027 (10th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff-Appellant Karna Sacchi obtained an unpaid internship with Defendant-Appellee IHC Health Services, Inc. (the “Hospital”), but her internship was terminated by Defendant-Appellee Joy Singh before it was scheduled to finish. Sacchi filed a complaint alleging: (1) associational discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); (2) sex and religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; (3) age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); (4) breach of contract; and (5) defamation against Singh. The district court dismissed Sacchi’s federal claims because it concluded that she was not an employee and therefore not protected under the antidiscrimination statutes. The district court also declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her non-federal claims and dismissed them without prejudice. On appeal to the Tenth Circuit, Sacchi argued that, in an internship setting, access to professional certification, a path to employment, or both could constitute indirect, significant job-related benefits and thereby satisfy the “threshold-remuneration” test if those benefits are substantial and not incident to the internship. In the alternative, Sacchi argued most unpaid interns were “employees” under federal antidiscrimination statutes. On the facts alleged in Sacchi’s complaint, the Tenth Circuit concluded the benefits claimed were too attenuated and speculative to constitute sufficient remuneration for purposes of the Tenth Circuit's threshold-remuneration test. Accordingly, the Court affirmed dismissal of her case.