Learning how to ask questions of your employer is important. Now that you have your money in order, there’s a darker, more sinister, side of employment that we need to discuss.
As you begin in the workforce you have to know there are sometimes situations that can happen that are totally unacceptable. There’s been a lot of attention in the media lately about persons in a position of power (this could be an employer, manager, fellow employees, etc.), being sexually aggressive, suggestive, touchy-feely, or complacent when it comes to young employees (or potential employees).
When you interview for a job, it should be on a level playing field. In other words, the successful candidate is the most qualified or best suited for the position. You didn’t get the job because you wanted to be treated in a derogatory way or to allow some creep to rub up against you or touch you.
It’s important for you to be aware of your rights.
It’s never okay for your boss (or coworker/manager/etc.) to touch you in any suggestive way. A boss doesn’t ask you to come into the back office at the end of the day and ask you to rub his shoulders. Nor does an employer make comments about your body, comment on your underwear, or whistle at the way you move. It’s not okay for dirty/profane/sexist jokes be told in the workplace.
Sex or sexual touching is never a requirement to stay employed and an adult saying that they’re attracted to you (you’re 16 and he’s 40)…is not flattering, or sexy, or special. It’s predatory and is not okay. (And, that’s not only for girls. Young men can also be the target of sexual assault or unwanted touching. So all of the above also goes for penis jokes, etc. Not okay…I repeat..not okay.
If a boss or manager says you’ll be fired (or demoted) if you tell what happens…that’s illegal. A manager/boss/employer doesn’t ask an employee to keep secrets and they don’t ask them to meet outside of the place of business alone to discuss matters. Even if your twenty one and your boss says he/she wants to take you for a drink to discuss a private matter…nope. Sorry. You don’t/shouldn’t have “private” matters to discuss with your boss. Its about the work, not a social (or romantic) adventure into adulthood. You have the right to say no.
The Hollywood scandals and the “Me Too” social media campaign illustrate the scope of the problem and that no one is immune. Famous actors/actresses, and seemingly the entire industry, ‘knew’ of the behaviour for years and yet stayed silent. This complacency meant that the next victim didn’t stand a chance. If you feel safe but perhaps fear for a co-worker, then it’s up to you to speak up. It’s just like when your parents, or you auntie, told you to stay away from strangers at the park and that predators looked for the quiet ones…the ones who wouldn’t kick and scream.
If you’re unsure of what you saw or what to do (and you don’t want to get anyone in trouble needlessly), then talk to Auntie. It can be better to discuss a situation rather than rush to accuse someone of something that was perhaps a misunderstanding.
Male/Female…doesn’t matter. It’s imperative that if at any time you feel uncomfortable, compromised, or threatened that you know you don’t need to stay in that situation. Tell Auntie. Tell a parent. Tell a teacher. Tell someone.
*published by Black Press
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