Because of their age and lack of experience in the working world, teen employees may be particularly vulnerable to harassment, and may not know what to do if harassment occurs.
Especially if you are planning to hire young workers this summer, pay close attention to the EEOC's suggestions:
- Encourage open, positive, and respectful interactions with young workers.
- Remember that awareness, through early education and communication is the key to prevention.
- Use your established policy for handling complaints.
- Provide alternate avenues to report complaints and identify appropriate staff to contact.
- Encourage young workers to come forward with concerns and protect employees who report problems or otherwise participate in EEO investigations from retaliation.
- Post company policies on discrimination and complaint processing in visible locations, such as near the time clock or break area, or include the information in a young worker's first paycheck.
- Clearly communicate, update, and reinforce discrimination policies and procedures in a language and manner young workers can understand.
- Provide early training to managers and employees, especially frontline supervisors; and
- Consider hosting an information seminar for the parents or guardians of teens working for the organization.
Harassment prevention training will help all inexperienced teen workers understand the kinds of behavior that are unacceptable and inappropriate in the workplace. They will be more likely to recognize harassment and report incidents, and less likely to engage in harassment themselves.