Magazine article Work & Family Life

Talking to Teens about the Work World

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Talking to Teens about the Work World

Article excerpt

Q My 17-year-old works parttime at a restaurant for a boss who seems to mistreat his teenage employees. If the kids complain, my son says, they'll get fired. This upsets me. I hate to see young people get the idea that such disrespect is accepted in the workplace.

-D.J., Lansing, MI

A This is a tough issue for young people and their parents. Wall Street Journal Work & Family columnist Sue Shellenbarger has written that many teenagers are clueless about their rights to respect on the job and what constitutes appropriate workplace conduct. "Some assume they don't have the same rights as other employees," she said. "Others are afraid they'll be fired, ridiculed or ostracized if they complain."

Find out from your son how bad the mistreatment is and then discuss whether it is manageable or not. If not, then help him find another job.

The federal EEOC has a "Youth@Work" education and enforcement campaign aimed at teen employment "hot spots" such as fast-food franchisees and national clothing retailers.

Shellenbarger described two hallmarks of risky employment situations: (1) teenage workers are not given information on what constitutes sexual harassment or discrimination, and (2) their front-line managers are inexperienced and untrained in how to avoid discrimination. …

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