Texas Teens, Sexual Harassment and First-Time-Summer Jobs

The summer months are here, and for Texas teenagers just getting out of high school, it means an opportunity for a first-time summer job, the experience of working, and some extra spending money. It's also an opportunity for some unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of young adults who may be lacking in worldly wisdom. As an example of what might happen, consider that a sexual harassment lawsuit was recently settled involving young female workers who were made to endure alleged sexual advances and language from a restaurant supervisor.

Although the supervisor's inappropriate actions were brought to the attention of management, the harassment did not end and the young women, aged 17 through 19, sought outside assistance and the company was sued. The settlement was for $150,000 and the restaurant was also ordered to implement a variety of harassment prevention programs. Although most teenagers are smarter and more street-wise than most adults might want to admit, they do not usually possess the type of life experience that would enable them to accurately and consistently tell the difference between what workplace behavior might be appropriate and what might not. As a result, less sensitive (or just plain crass) co-workers may interpret a lack of an initial rebuff as an invitation to press forward with their advances or comments.

All young first-time workers should make an effort to learn — or receive guidance from their parents -- about what the real differences are between appropriate and inappropriate workplace behavior. They should also be made to understand that harassment is illegal no matter what the source -- whether it's a co-worker or the company CEO. First-time teenage employees should also understand that what might be considered appropriate behavior outside of the workplace may not be acceptable within it.

A first-time summer job can be an important learning experience for a young person in Texas, but the learning experience doesn't have to be a negative one. All workers, regardless of their age or work experience, should not feel uncomfortable or threatened about reporting what they feel is on-the-job sexual harassment. When reports of harassment go unheeded by management, however, the employee should seriously consider seeking outside and knowledgeable advice and assistance rather than simply 'putting up with' the abusive on-the-job behavior.

Source: Source: hrhero.com, "Summer jobs and workplace harassment: Train your teen workers to avoid trouble," Joan Farrel, July 5, 2013