Summer means an influx of teen workers for many employers. Teen employees bring with them a unique set of legal issues of which businesses should be aware. Here are some ways to get ready for this year’s youth initiative.
Department of Labor
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a web page that’s loaded with information and suggestions to help employers keep their teen-aged workers safe and to keep themselves in compliance with child labor laws this summer. Not all employers are aware of state and federal restrictions on the activities in which teens are permitted to engage at work. Alert employers will want to review this page, click on the links, and plan the steps they will take to decrease the risk that their teen employees will be injured at work.
The Delaware Department of Labor (DDOL) also has information about state child labor laws available in booklet form. A brief summary is available on the DDOL’s website.
Sexual Harassment Awareness
Employers should also take steps to address the special vulnerability of teen workers to sexual harassment. As an item on this blog noted a few weeks ago, an ABA Journal story reported that the number of teen-aged workers filing sexual harassment charges is on the rise. Teen workers are often part-time or seasonal, and may be in the workplace for the first time. They tend to fall between the cracks when it comes to training. Many restaurants, movie theaters and retail stores have teen-age supervisors and managers as well as workers. Teens tend not to realize that the standard of conduct at work is different from what’s permissible in a social setting.
To minimize their risks, employers who hire teen-agers must make a strong effort to educate them (and their supervisors) about harassment, retaliation and workplace safety in a meaningful and understandable way.