San Antonio Employment Law Blog

Is your teenager being harassed at work?

San Antonio parents of teenagers might not be thrilled to read about the following study. A university study has found that teenagers are quite likely to experience sexual harassment at work, and that the effects of this harassment can be long-lasting.

Researchers found that 54 percent of teenage females interviewed had been sexually harassed at work and 37 percent of males had been harassed. While researchers interviewed only 116 teens, the prominence of sexual harassment makes their findings quite concerning.

The teenagers were subjected to a variety of forms of sexual harassment on the job, including lewd comments and behavior, sexist comments, unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion.

All of these forms of harassment are likely illegal. Most of them fall under the category of sexual harassment leading to a “hostile work environment.” A hostile work environment is one that might include inappropriate comments or emails, or unwanted touching. The second category of harassment is “quid pro quo,” which describes situations in which employees are asked to engage in unwanted sexual activities in order to obtain a promotion or avoid being fired, among other employment actions.

The researchers involved in this study believe teens might frequently be the subject of sexual harassment because they tend to have little power or status in the workplace. Additionally, they are reportedly less likely to report the harassment because they are unaware of their rights and uncomfortable coming forward.

Researchers found that teens who are harassed at work, especially girls, might perform worse in school and begin developing absenteeism and tardiness. Their grades may also worsen as will their outlook toward the future.

Teens, nor adults, should be forced to experience harassment at work. Those who do have the right to hold their employer accountable. Teenagers, who are likely uncomfortable reporting harassment, might be wise to seek legal counsel with their parents to learn about their rights and options. It is important to do this not only to receive compensation for damages, but also to ensure the workplace will change and more teens will not experience the same thing.

Source: Yahoo News, “Teens More Likely to Face Sexual Harassment on the Job,” Chad Brooks, Dec. 26, 2012

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