A teen’s first job is a big step on the road to becoming an adult. They may be able to fit in a part-time job during the school year or wait until summer and take on a full-time job. Whether they’re scooping ice cream, making coffee, handling the concession stand at a local movie theater or working in a store, they’re going to learn some things about the workplace.
Unfortunately, one thing that too many teens – especially girls – learn is that despite the #MeToo movement, workplace sexual harassment still occurs. However, teens may not recognize that what’s happening is harassment and not appropriate – in fact illegal. At first, they may think a manager or supervisor is flirting with them.
One woman, who’s now in her 30s, said that in her first summer job at a store, her manager scheduled her to work until closing with him alone. She said the harassment progressed to asking her about whom she was dating to physical assault. Only then did she see his behavior for what it was. One sociology professor says that this early workplace sexual harassment can affect women well into adulthood. It can cause them to distrust colleagues and create problems in their careers.
Does your teen know what to do if they’re being sexually harassed at work?
Teens working in part-time jobs may not know how to report sexual harassment or understand their rights, even if they recognize that they’re being harassed. If they do know how to report it, they may not want to risk being fired from their first job. They may also simply be too embarrassed to tell their parents or even their friends.
It’s wise for parents to be certain that their kids (regardless of gender) know what is and isn’t appropriate workplace behavior and not be afraid to speak up if they’re being harassed – or at least to come to them.
Everybody has a right to be free from sexual harassment at work
If your child is being sexually harassed at work, whether by a boss, a co-worker or a customer, it’s important that they know how to report it. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to look into possible legal options to protect them and likely other victims as well.