Summer Jobs in the Context of #MeToo


As the first summer approaches since the #MeToo movement began, many teenagers and their parents are considering the possibility of teens facing sexual harassment in the workplace. Specifically, they are concerned about sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. Restaurants are the nation’s largest employer for teenagers and the first job for one in three Americans.
Filing a complaint with the EEOC is required before filing a federal lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees, such as on the basis of sex or gender. Two-third of EEOC sexual harassment cases involving teens over the past decade were filed against restaurants and all involved allegations that management did not take the reports seriously and/or retaliated against the complainants. This is significant in that nearly one-quarter of jobs held by 16- to 19-year-olds are in the restaurant industry.
Before the #MeToo movement shined a light on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, it was such a low priority topic that some companies did not offer sexual harassment awareness training at all. Now many companies are implementing new training courses or updating existing ones.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment is highly underreported by teens, as they often do not feel confident in filing a report against their harasser or do not hold the position for long enough to decide to follow through with making a complaint. As the industry responds more to growing trends of awareness and promotion of a safe environment for workers, the desired outcome is to see a decrease in the amount of incidents of sexual harassment and an increase in management responding appropriately to the claims that are made.