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California teens suffering sexual harassment, unlikely to report

We often think of sexual harassment in California in adult terms, but younger workers also suffer from this workplace scourge. In fact, a shocking study shows that one-third of American teenagers have been subject to sexual harassment on the job, a far higher statistic than many of us may have imagined. The fact is that no one is immune to this type of workplace experience, no matter his or her age. That is why younger workers need to remain particularly vigilant about the signs of sexual harassment -- and why they deserve added protections.

Younger workers often do not realize that they are being sexually harassed. Teens may tease each other at school, but those same actions in the workplace constitute a serious offense that could lead to a sexual harassment claim. Other workers who use sexual innuendo are often promoting a hostile work environment that can be difficult for teens to navigate. In a world in which only 5 percent of adult victims report sexual harassment, younger workers are even less likely to say something.

Sexual harassment at a younger age can have far more severe consequences than unwanted sexual advances during the adult years. Youngsters often suffer from poor school performance because of the emotional impact of the harassment. Further, they feel tainted toward the working world in general, and they may hesitate to seek future employment because they fear that the harassment may be repeated.

Young adults are often dependent on their jobs to pay rent, even when they are as young as 17 or 18 years old. In many instances, they think they must keep their job even though they are victims of sexual harassment, largely because they don't see any other options. All victims of sexual harassment have a right to a safe workplace, however; those supervisors and companies that do not promote safe work practices need to be held accountable in civil court. No one, especially young people, should have to suffer through the emotional trauma associated with offensive sexual comments and other harassing actions.

Source: ThinkProgress, "At Least One In Three Teens Are Sexually Harassed At Work," Bryce Covert, accessed Aug. 26, 2015

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