I was at the local grocery store picking up produce and found myself in a conversation with the checkout girl.
She was probably 16, with brunette hair and braces; I’ll call her Samantha. Her college-bound friend, Amera, was chatting on about the odd conversations with customers when she works at the store.
In the ten minutes it took for me to check out, Amera and Samantha recounted how older male customers hit on them and asked inappropriate flirtatious questions. Amera was upset that a woman made a racist remark about one of the box boys. The two young women were dismayed and somewhat outraged. I couldn’t help myself and chimed in, “You can tell your manager, you have a right to a safe workplace.”
The two young women were startled, “Really? We can do that?”
They didn’t know that Title VII protects all aspects of their work environment. If a customer, contractor, or fellow employee harasses them, they have a right to speak up. The manager should tell new hires that even part-time employees have the right to a safe place. But Samantha and Amera didn’t know.
While I doubt that this very real experience with fictitious names will be read by Samantha and Amera, I intend for parents of young workers to gain insight. Tell your sons and daughters about their rights as employees. No one should be subject to sexist and racist remarks, at any age. Unfortunately, often employers take the rights of young people for granted; they assume young employees don’t know their rights. In converse, while young employees may not know their rights, they know they are not respected and develop a jaded attitude toward work. The METOO movement has shown too many women are subject to harassment. We adults can strive to push off those METOO experiences and let summer fun prevail just a while longer.
For more information on this topic check out: Hollis, L. P. (2014). Lambs to Slaughter? Young People as the Prospective Target of Workplace Bullying in Higher Education. Journal of Education and Human Development, 3(4), 45-57.
Read more posts by Leah Hollis, Ed.D. here. Leah is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.
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