Resources Help Prepare Teens for Workplace

By SHRM Online Staff Sep 24, 2012

In an ongoing effort to educate teens about sexual harassment and other forms of employment discrimination they might face as they enter the world of work, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a set of free informational aids.

Though intended for classroom use, the new video, student manual and teacher’s manual may be downloaded and used by youth organizations, businesses who employ young workers and other groups seeking to prepare students for situations they could encounter in the workplace.

The tools were developed as part of EEOC’s Youth@Work, an effort to educate America’s youth about their employment rights and responsibilities and help employers create positive work experiences for young adults. They are free to the public and may be found at under “free downloads.”

Alternatively, educators may request the video and classroom guides by e-mailing EEOC will provide one copy of the video and one set of classroom guides per person, while supplies last.

The video and the classroom guides provide a series of vignettes to help teenagers entering the workforce understand some of the issues they could face, such as bullying, racial slurs, stereotyping and inappropriate touching. The scenes are set in workplaces common for teens—a retail store and a fast-food restaurant—and help teachers and students identify illegal discrimination and harassment.

“As young people enter the workforce, it is important that they understand their rights and know how to respond if they experience or witness unlawful discrimination or harassment,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien, in a news statement.

The updated Youth@Work web page includes information about different types of job discrimination that young workers might encounter and suggests strategies they can use to prevent, and, if necessary, respond to such discrimination.

The section called “Challenge Yourself!” provides teens and others the opportunity to test their knowledge of discrimination and harassment by analyzing a series of scenarios, such as the following:

Suzy works as a lifeguard at a community pool. Soon after she was hired, she received text messages from her supervisor that said “You are the hottest girl at the pool” and “3 Dates = 1 Raise.” The text messages made Suzy uncomfortable, and she did not respond in the hope that her supervisor would take the hint and leave her alone. The next day, the supervisor hugged Suzy, patted her rear end, and said, “The way you look in that bathing suit, it’s clear that you’re my best hire yet.” Suzy immediately pushed him away and reported the incident and the texts to the pool manager. Did the supervisor sexually harass Suzy?

Organizations that employ young workers may find the quiz-based format of the “Challenge Yourself” section a useful resource to use when training managers how to handle and prevent claims of discrimination and harassment.

The U.S. Department of Labor hosts a separate youth-oriented website called YouthRules!, that provides teen workers with information about work hours by age group, wages and workplace safety in various industries.

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