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Protecting Teenagers from Workplace Sexual Harassment: What Parents Need to Know

Cashier at fast food drive thru window

Teenagers are increasingly part of the workforce as summer jobs or after-school shifts. Across the country, teens interact with older supervisors and managers who teach them what it means to be an employee in fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and offices. However, as young workers are still discovering their place in the workforce, they can be especially vulnerable to workplace sexual harassment. Teenage workers may never learn what to do when sexual harassment targets them. Our West Virginia workplace sexual harassment team outlines how to protect your child from workplace harassment, signs that something may be amiss, and what to do if your child is victimized.

Protecting Your Child From Workplace Sexual Harassment

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. These rights provide equality without distinction of gender and the right to protection against all forms of neglect, cruelty, and exploitation. Sexual harassment of minors is considered a form of exploitation. Though countless laws protect minors in the workplace and otherwise, as a parent, you can do a few things to equip your child. As a parent, you can:

  • Educate your teenager about what sexual harassment is and how to identify it.
  • Encourage your teenager to speak up if they feel uncomfortable or see something that makes them uneasy.
  • Make sure your teenager knows whom to go to at their job if they need help or have questions.

Signs That Something May Be Amiss At Your Teen’s Workplace

Falling victim to sexual harassment may feel shameful, especially for a teenager. Your child might not tell you what is going on. As a parent, it is essential to take notice of changes in behavior as these can be signs that something is wrong. There are a few signs that may indicate that something is wrong at your teen’s workplace:

  • Your child is reluctant to go to work or seems stressed out when they come home from their shift.
  • Your child starts making excuses not to go to work, such as claiming they are sick.
  • Your child begins receiving texts, calls, or social media messages from their boss or another employee outside work hours.
  • Your child’s behavior changes, such as becoming withdrawn or moody.
  • Your child avoids talking about work or their co-workers.

As a parent, you know your teenager better than anyone. If you notice any changes in their behavior, take the time to ask them what is happening. If they are reluctant to talk about work, gently probe to see if something is going on that they do not want to discuss.

Parents May Not Hear About Sexual Harassment Until It Is Too Late

Your teenager may not tell you about the sexual harassment they are experiencing for various reasons. They might be embarrassed, think you will overreact, or be worried that their job is in jeopardy if they speak up. Additionally, many workplaces have policies that silence victims of sexual harassment. These policies may require employees to report incidents through channels that do not involve parents, such as human resources.

By the time parents hear about workplace sexual harassment, their child’s case may already be closed. If you suspect your child has been victimized, it is vital to approach them with care. You will want to ensure that they feel comfortable confiding in you. Once you have talked to your child, you can take steps to protect their rights and help them heal.

Steps to Take If Your Child Is Sexually Harassed at Work

If your child is a victim of workplace sexual harassment, there are immediate steps you can take to help them. First, you should talk to your child’s employer. If the harassment is coming from a supervisor or manager, this may be difficult. You should also contact an attorney who specializes in workplace sexual harassment. An experienced lawyer will know how to protect your child’s rights and help them get the compensation they deserve.

Bailess Law Firm PLLC Can Provide the Support your Family Needs

No one should have to endure sexual harassment, especially not a teenager. If your child has been victimized, Bailess Law Firm PLLC is here to help. Our workplace sexual harassment team will fight for your child’s rights and ensure they get the compensation they deserve.

Contact us today at (304) 841-0037 or through our online contact form for a free consultation.