Protect Young Employees From Harassment

Bob Gregg, a partner in Boardman Law Firm, shares his roundup of diversity-related legal issues. He can be reached at rgregg@boardmanlawfirm.com.


The child-labor duties and hour restrictions are not the only concerns regarding employment of teenagers. There are a growing number of cases involving sexual harassment and other abusive-environment issues. Teens are among the most vulnerable, most likely people to be harassed or abused in the workplace. Yet, because they are often part-time, low-wage, short-term employees, they too often receive the least attention, the least information and, unfortunately, the least concern when they try (sometimes naively, without knowing the right process or even the right terms) to express concerns.

Employers who hire teens have a special duty of care to actually pay more attention and devote more concern than is given to adult employees. The following cases are illustrative. (For more information, see Child Labor Duty of Care at Child Labor Articles.)

See articles on Developing the Future Workforce

Wisconsin new state-budget bill eliminates child-labor hour restrictions. The Wisconsin legislature has eliminated hour restrictions for 16- and 17-year-old employees in private-sector jobs. The old restrictions limited them to working only six days a week or 50 hours during non-school weeks and 26 hours during the school year, and a guarantee of eight hours of sleep before the school day began. The legislature has removed those limits, and teenagers can now work adult hours seven days a week, double shifts or more. There is still a restriction on working during school hours; however, a teen can work night shifts as long as he or she is released in time to get to school. Most restrictions remain in place for those under age 16 during the school year to permit a 40-hour work week during the summer and other weeks with no school. The provisions were added to the budget bill and passed without any public hearing. The legislators have not explained how this provision was relevant to the state budget. The sponsors have stated that this is intended to bring the state closer to federal child-labor rules.

Court disagrees with Department of Labor (DOL)’s internship guidelines. In 2010, the Department of Labor issued a six-factor test for determining whether student interns were truly “interns” who could work without pay or were employees entitled to at least minimum wage and overtime. In Solils v. Laurelbrook Sanitarium and School, Inc. (6th Cir., 2011), a federal appeals court rejected the DOL’s six factors, finding them “not helpful.” It simplified the issue into a one-part balance of whether the “primary benefit” of the work is for the organization’s operational needs or for the student’s/intern’s learning and development. In this case, it found that the work was for the student workers’ education and development.

Restaurant must post “guilty notice” in spite of appeal. A restaurant chain lost a case over sexual harassment of teenage employees by an adult male manager. In addition to monetary damages, the court ordered that notices be conspicuously posted in all of the chain’s 20 restaurants, informing all employees of the jury verdict and the penalties for sexual harassment. The company appealed the jury verdict and sought an injunction against posting the notices while the appeal was pending. The court declined. It found no irreparable harm and ordered the notices to be posted, plus a $1,000-per-day fine for each day of non-compliance. EEOC v. Management Hospitality of Racine, Inc. (E.D. Wis., 2011)

Donut shops settle case of sexual harassment of teen employees. The owners of a chain of Dunkin Donut franchises entered a settlement and six-year consent order. The franchise company denied any wrongdoing. The case alleged that a male manager at one of the stores engaged in harassment of female employees, including teenagers, grabbing, rubbing and attempted kissing and describing sexual acts he wanted. The company management allegedly received complaints but took no action until employees reported the matter to local police and the manager was arrested. The settlement includes:

$290,000 to be divided among eight former employees

Posting of notices about the settlement in all 14 of the company’s franchise operations

Sexual-harassment training for all employees in all stores every two years

The company must give every employee and new hire a wallet-sized card on how to file discrimination complaints with the company.

EEOC v. College View Donuts, LCC (N.D. NY, 2011)

See articles on Retention and Work/Life and articles on Talent Development and Mentoring

Latest News

Abbott Launches the First Infant Formula in Canada with an Ingredient Identical in Structure to Immune Component Found in Breast Milk

Originally published on Abbott.com. Abbott ranked No. 8 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020. 2′-Fucosyllactose Oligosaccharide†(2′-FL†) is now available in Abbott’s infant formula, Similac Pro-Advance® HMOs, like 2′-FL, in breast milk help support a baby’s immune system [1] HMOs, like 2′-FL, feed good bacteria in the…

Cigna

Veterans Recovery Resources of Mobile Receives $100,000 Cigna Foundation Grant to Provide Mental Health Services to Area Veterans

Originally published on Cigna.com For the second year in a row, the Cigna Foundation will provide a $100,000 grant to Veterans Recovery Resources, a community-based, non-profit organization that offers professional clinical care and peer-based wellness programs to military service members, veterans, families, caregivers and survivors in southwest Alabama and surrounding areas. Building on the…

aging and infected human cells

Racism Can Trigger Premature Aging; Trump Administration Loses Battle With Women Detained for Speaking Spanish; and More

Two new studies highlight damaging impact of racism on cells and the body Racism not only increases stress levels in the body, but also causes the body to age faster according to the results of two alarming new studies. In the first, conducted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the…

thanksgiving, truth

The Truth You May Not Know About Thanksgiving

On Thursday, Nov. 26, many Native Americans and their allies across the country will observe the 51st National Day of Mourning. While most Americans will sit down to Thanksgiving dinners — albeit (hopefully) smaller ones than in years past due to COVID-19 — this counter-observance is designed as an ongoing…

President-elect Joe Biden

President-Elect Joe Biden’s Potential New Cabinet Filled With Historic Firsts; New Report Details the Top 10 Careers Most Impacted by COVID-19; and More

President-elect Biden continues his push for an administration that “looks like America.” With more than a month to go until he is even sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and his transition to the office finally underway after weeks of delay, President-elect Joe Biden is already…