Why teen workers face a high risk of sexual harassment

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Employment Law |

Teen workers face a high risk of sexual harassment on the job. There are several reasons this demographic is particularly vulnerable to workplace sexual harassment.

Understanding these factors helps create safer, more comfortable work environments for teens.

Limited work experience

Teens often enter the workforce with little to no prior experience. They may not recognize inappropriate behavior or know how to respond to it. This lack of experience can make them easy targets for harassment. They might also feel unsure about how to report incidents or fear losing their job if they speak up. Many teenagers also may not fully understand what constitutes harassment, leading them to tolerate or dismiss inappropriate behavior.

Lack of knowledge about rights

Many teens are unaware of their rights in the workplace. They may not know that laws protect them from sexual harassment. This lack of knowledge can prevent them from acting when harassment occurs. Without understanding their rights, teens might feel helpless or think that enduring harassment is a normal part of having a job.

Power imbalances

Teens often work in positions where they are subordinate to older employees or supervisors. These power imbalances can make it difficult for them to speak out against harassment. Many fear retaliation. Harassers may exploit these power dynamics, knowing teens are less likely to challenge them. This creates an environment where harassment can occur more easily.

Peer pressure and social dynamics

Teens are also subject to influence by peer pressure and social dynamics. They may want to fit in with their coworkers and or not have their coworkers see them as troublemakers. This desire for social acceptance can lead them to ignore or downplay harassment.

According to Inc., about a quarter of working adolescents face unwanted advances, comments or assaults in the workplace. Today’s employers must take steps to protect young workers from harassment and create a more respectful workplace culture.