Most of us can likely remember back to when we were teenagers or young adults and some of our first jobs and work experiences. Young and inexperienced workers are often unaware of their legal rights as an employee and are, therefore, less likely to report acts of sexual harassment and wage theft as well as unsafe working conditions.
Fast food restaurants, grocery stores and cleaning companies are all major employers of young workers and, for an inexperienced worker; such workplaces can be filled with hidden hazards. From lifting-related injuries and slip-and-falls to the risks of being assaulted or suffering burn injuries; a general lack of experience is often a factor in work accidents involving young workers.
Young workers who work temporary summer or part-time jobs would be wise to ensure that they know and understand their rights as an employee. For example, every worker has the right to a safe work environment that is free of known hazards. Additionally, every worker has the right to receive proper training and to be provided with adequate safety gear and equipment.
In cases where a worker is unclear about something, he or she should feel comfortable speaking up and asking questions. Likewise, in the event that a worker believes that an employer is not providing a safe work environment, a worker should feel empowered to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
At any age, workers can be vulnerable to and adversely impacted by employers who fail to provide for their safety. However, due to their age and lack of work experience, young workers are often especially at risk for being taken advantage of by dishonest employers and also suffering the related consequences.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Young Workers - You have rights!," April 20, 2016