Whether by choice or out of financially necessity, many teens in the U.S. work part-time or full-time jobs. Many are also victims of sexual harassment and discrimination which often goes unreported. At any age, sexual harassment experienced on the job can adversely impact a worker psychologically, emotionally and financially. However, the results of a recent study indicate that, for teenage workers, the negative impact of sexual harassment may be more pervasive and long term.

A 29-year-old wife and mother recently shared her story of being sexually harassed by her boss at a young age and her continued psychological struggles related to that harassment. While a teen, the woman came illegally to the U.S. where relatives helped her get a job at a restaurant.

Only 17, she was originally flattered when her boss paid attention to and complimented her. Quickly, however, his comments and actions became increasingly inappropriate and physical. The sexually explicit comments, propositions, touching and grabbing continued for years. When the woman attempted to confide in family members who also worked at the restaurant, she received no support as they too feared losing their jobs.

When she was 24-years-old, the woman finally took legal action and filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her boss. Today, at the age of 29, the woman stays home to raise her child and says she is too afraid to find another job. While she no longer has nightmares, she’s still brought to tears talking about the traumatic events.

Teens who are victims of employment sexual harassment are often confused, embarrassed and ashamed and few come forward to report inappropriate comments or physical assaults. Los Angeles area teens or parents who believe an employer or manager is guilty of carrying out acts of sexual harassment would be wise to discuss their case with an employment attorney.

Source: The Oregonian, “Post traumatic stress, health problems plague workers for years: Teen sexual harassment,” Laura Gundersen, April 2, 2014