Sexual harassment in the workplace is bad enough when you’re an adult. However, teens too often face it at some of their earliest jobs.
Teens can be particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and even assault by managers or other employees. They’re often in part-time or temporary positions where they don’t have any seniority.
They often don’t know when someone’s words or actions are inappropriate or even illegal. They likely need their job to contribute to their college fund, have some spending money or even help keep their family afloat financially.
Most, but certainly not all, teen victims of workplace sexual harassment are girls. One sociologist’s research recently revealed that early sexual harassment often negatively affects them and their relationships with colleagues throughout their careers.
Talking to your teen about workplace sexual harassment
Teens sometimes don’t realize that what’s happening is harassment. They may just think that one of their supervisors is flirting with them. They may try to manage the situation themselves. They’re often afraid to tell their parents because they don’t want to be told to quit their job– or worse, have their parent confront their manager.
It’s a good idea for parents to talk to kids about what constitutes inappropriate workplace behavior so that they can recognize it.
As a parent, you need to let your teen know that they can and should speak. You should empower them to report their unlawful treatment to a manager or human resources professional.
Your child’s manager needs to know if the harasser is a customer. They should know not to allow such treatment to occur – no matter how valuable the customer may be.
You should encourage your teen to always tell you about any sexual harassment directed at them, regardless of whether they have addressed the problem with their employer or not.
Teens have as much of a right to feel safe and be treated with respect at work as anyone. If your teen is being sexually harassed, and their employer has done nothing to stop it, then it may be wise to look into your legal options. Many employers continue to allow all kinds of harassment of their young workers to exist so long as no one stops them.