Information from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Employing Teenagers

Mr. John Wargowsky, Executive Director - Mid American Ag and Hort Services, Inc. and Director, Labor Services - Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Inc. 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently offered tips to companies that employ teenagers and called on the employer community to promote fair, inclusive, and discrimination-free workplaces for millions of young people. At the height of last summer (July 2005), more than 7 million young people age 16 to19 joined the U.S. workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The EEOC encourages industries to create an environment in which young workers can learn, develop, and thrive. The EEOC says the next generation of workers will carry the lessons you share throughout their careers. The EEOC offered employers the following tips to promote voluntary compliance and prevent harassment and discrimination cases involving young workers:

  • Encourage open, positive, and respectful interactions with young workers,
  • Remember that awareness, through early education and communication, is the key to prevention,
  • Establish a strong corporate policy for handling complaints,
  • Provide alternate avenues to report complaints and identify appropriate staff to contact,
  • Encourage young workers to come forward with concerns and protect employees who report problems or otherwise participate in EEO investigations from retaliation,
  • Post company policies on discrimination and complaint processing in visible locations, such as near the time clock or break area, or include the information with a young worker's first paycheck,
  • Clearly communicate, update and reinforce discrimination policies and procedures in a language and manner young workers can understand,
  • Provide early training to managers and employees, especially front-line supervisors, and
  • Consider hosting an information seminar for the parents or guardians of teens working for the organization.