Lindsay Marcisz was thrilled to land a job as a ticket-taker at California-based UltraStar Cinemas in 2001. Finally the 16-year-old student thought she would enjoy some economic freedom during her last few years of high school. But Marcisz soon discovered that working at the movie theater wasn't going to be as carefree as she had expected.
Almost immediately after she started, two of the theater's male managers began making sexual comments and lewd gestures toward Marcisz and three of her female co-workers, also teenagers. Concerned that if she complained she would lose her job and her new income, Marcisz initially said nothing--even though she often feared going to work.
The most common industries in which teens work--food service and retail--are often casual environments that foster a social atmosphere. "Drawing a line of distinction between appropriate behavior at school, in the mall and in Internet chat rooms, and what is appropriate at work, is not always clear to young workers," Earp says.
But even if teens know someone at work is treating them inappropriately, they often won't report it because they don't believe part-time workers are protected.
A Time For Change
The commission's Youth at Work outreach program helps teenagers and young adults understand appropriate workplace behavior by providing information on its Web site, offering educational events and partnering with industry groups such as the National Restaurant Association and National Retail Federation.