More teens allege sexual harassment as the EEOC and media heighten awareness

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Just because employees are young doesn't mean they don't know their rights to a harassment-free workplace.

The media firestorm involving Rep. Mark Foley's improper e-mails to teen pages in Congress raised awareness among workers, parents and employers about harassment of teen workers.

"Discrimination happens to employees of all ages, but offenders sometimes single out teen workers because they think they won't know any better," says an EEOC spokesperson.

The EEOC is taking action. The agency is actively promoting its two-year-old Web site, www.youth.eeoc.gov, to teach young workers about their employment rights. And last year, the EEOC filed twice as many lawsuits involving teenage workers than it did in 2001.

Latest example: A group of 13 young female employees of a waterproofing contractor firm in Rochester, N.Y., recently won a $585,000 judgment in a sexual harassment class action. The women, most of whom are high-schoolers, alleged that they were sexually harassed by co-workers and managers.  

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