The EEOC has taken upon itself to protect a vulnerable group which lacks experience and knowledge of worker rights –The Youth@Work program protects the interests of teenagers and young workers.
The EEOC’s objectives in the program are twofold:
1. Educating young workers about their employment rights as well as responsibilities Enforcing the duty of employers to create positive work environments for youngsters
The EEOC has found that many younger workers accept discrimination and harassment, because they do not understand their rights and have no clear perception of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. The EEOC’s website details some cases where its intervention had helped some youngsters to get relief and justice (and in some cases, huge payoffs) in situations where they were silently withstanding harassment, or watching it happen without calling attention to it. The site provides training manuals and videos to educate and inform this worker group.
Examples cited on the EEOC website include:
Note to Employers: It pays not to ignore a complaint from anyone when there is a report of abuse.
Note to Employers: The EEOC brought charges in this case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as the harassment was the result of gender.
Note to Employers: The employer was penalized for violating federal law by not protecting the employee and firing the supervisor immediately for not training the staff against indulging in such practices.
Note to Employers: Apart from a monetary penalty, the employer was made to apologize to the worker, train all employees on what constitutes harassment, and post signs about the rights of the employees to a positive work environment.
Note to Employers: Employer was guilty of failure to take prompt and appropriate action against the manager. EEOC directed them to incorporate a workplace policy to eliminate workplace discrimination and harassment, while training the workers on the policy and how to seek protection.
Note to Women in Similar Situation: There is no need to be afraid of being held responsible for or causing any of the harassment.
It is now up to the employers to ensure that their workplaces are conducive to provide freedom from worker harassment. They must use strong guidelines and stringent penalties to dissuade those in positions of power from abusing it. Young workers, who lack experience, must be encouraged to report any harassment rather than quitting in shock and embarrassment.
An employer is, any day, better off having the workers coming in to them to complain against any improper practices in the workplace. If the workplace does not put supportive policies which make it possible, they might opt for the help being offered by the EEOC – and subject the employer to serious punitive measures.
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