Scales of Justice

Young Workers Less Likely to Seek Legal Help

Disturbing reports from Oregon and other Northwestern states reveal young workers are more likely to face sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and are less likely to seek help from discrimination defense lawyers in the Portland areas. As many as one in three teens in Oregon have experienced some form of sexual harassment at their jobs, and many of these cases have been dismissed or have gone unreported entirely.

Fear of Filing Discrimination Lawsuits in Portland

Teens and young adults were found to be especially vulnerable to sexual harassment in the workplace, yet many of their lawsuits are not getting the attention they deserve. Also, it’s been determined that employees between the ages of 15-22 don’t always ask for the legal help they need because they have been desensitized to discriminatory behavior in school.

Researchers have said that many teens and young adult employees fail to recognize that inappropriate behavior from peers in school constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace. Also, many young employees are afraid to seek discrimination defense in Portland because they desperately need the paycheck or because they are scared and embarrassed.

Signs Point to a More Serious Problem

Though it’s worrying that so many young employees in the Northwest and across the United States are afraid to file discrimination lawsuits for sexual harassment, this reluctance highlights another serious issue. National polls have discovered that less than 5% of adult employees file harassment claims or discrimination lawsuits in the Seattle/Portland area and all across the United States. This suggests the trauma and fearfulness of young employees never really go away, leading to an increase in adults who are also less likely to seek professional assistance as well.

What’s Being Done to Help Young Employees?

There are programs in place at many schools throughout the U.S. that help students recognize harassment and give information about how to file a harassment claim. However, in Oregon, the program developed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was not implemented and could be one reason why young people are less likely to seek discrimination defense in Portland.

According to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, a large portion of the harassment claims was filed during 2008-2012 were dismissed because of a lack of evidence. Few cases were sent to an administrative judge for hearing, and the second-largest selection of claims ended in private settlements and court filings.

There is also evidence that suggests Oregon’s strategies for “triaging” harassment claims may not be fully protecting young employees. Discrimination attorneys in Portland as well as organizations like the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity have expressed concerns over current claims handling and many have called for new actions to be taken in order to protect teens and young adults.

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