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Teach your teens how to respond to workplace sexual harassment

McDonald’s has taken several hits to its corporate reputation lately for allowing sexual harassment of its workers to flourish amid franchise operations. In the latest blow, yet another lawsuit has been filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that workers in 22 stores owned by a single franchise owner were constantly subjected to groping, sexual intimidation and offensive behavior.

Why does it seem like so many workers are victimized by sexual harassment at McDonald’s and other fast-food businesses? Probably because they all share a common feature: Teenagers make up a lot of their staff.

Adults often don’t know how to respond to sexual harassment

It can be difficult for an adult with years in the workforce to handle sexual harassment from their boss, co-worker or customers, but teens are often particularly unsure of their rights or what constitutes an appropriate response.

If you have a teen who is entering the workforce, teach them the following things:

  1. They have an absolute right to work without being subjected to offensive touching, comments, questions, requests, images or other sexually oriented abuses.
  2. Sexual harassment can include actions or statements coming from someone of the same gender.
  3. If they feel sexually harassed, they need to immediately tell the other party that the behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop. Don’t give the person a second chance or hope they will stop on their own.
  4. They need to address any incidents of sexual harassment with their boss right away. If their boss is the person harassing them, they need to look at their employee handbook to see if there is a reporting policy and follow it. (If there is not, they need to move up the ladder and report the problem to their boss’s boss.)
  5. No job is worth their safety. If they feel unsafe, it’s better to quit and deal with the issue later than put themselves at ongoing risk.

If your teen is the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, find out more about how companies can be held accountable when they don’t protect their workers.