A recent survey found that at least one in three teenage workers experience sexual harassment at work. Experts say that although this ratio is high, it is likely that the reality is even worse, since many victims of sexual harassment in any age group do not report the incident to supervisors or law enforcement officers.
Sexual harassment at the workplace is a serious problem first and foremost because of the emotional harm it inflicts upon the victim. Being sexually harassed is often a traumatic experience for victims and in teens has been linked to stress and depression disorders along with many other symptoms. Teens who experience sexual harassment may lose interest in school, experience shame or fear about the attention they receive, and might have trouble finding or keeping future jobs out of fear over additional harassment.
In addition to be traumatic, sexual harassment at the workplace is illegal. Coworkers or bosses who say sexually suggestive things, make inappropriate gestures, unwanted advances, or unwanted touching could be liable both civilly and criminally, depending on the severity of the conduct. Employers who are aware of a problem of sexual harassment but fail to fix it will also be liable in an action brought by the injured employee. In many cases a sexual harassment suit will reveal that employers were not doing enough to protect workers, and that may lead to requirements from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the company change its policies to better protect workers and prevent sexual harassment.
Source: Oregon Live, “Young workers least likely to find help, yet suffer deepest scars: Teen sexual harassment,” Laura Gunderson, April 1, 2014.