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Young Workers In Retail And Fast Food Are Common Targets For Harassment

Young workers in retail and fast food are common targets for harassment

Young workers in retail and fast food are more likely to be sexually harassed than those in other industries, according to a survey.

Female retail workers under 30 years-old report the most sexual harassment.

They make up 46 percent of all victims, with most experiencing bad behaviour, on average, seven times in the past year.

Girls as young as 15 targeted

As reported by ABC News, the Australian Human Rights Commission conducted the survey of 3,000 workers.

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) union commissioned the research.

It found 46 percent of women and 29 percent of men working in retail experience sexual harassment.

Young workers are particularly affected with 51 percent of girls aged 15 to 17 reporting sexual harassment.

However, most did not report the harassment, thinking “it makes me feel creepy, but should I make a fuss?”.

Customers worst offenders

According to the survey, customers are the worst offenders and also co-workers.

  • Peers (27 percent)
  • Senior co-workers (12 percent)
  • Managers (12 percent)
  • Direct supervisors (11 percent)
  • Business owners (3 percent)

Suggestive comments and jokes common

Suggestive comments and jokes are the most common forms of harassment.

Intrusive questions, leering and unwelcome touching and inappropriate contact are also common. 

Repeated invitation for dates is also on the list.

The survey found three-quarters of incidents happened at an employee’s work station, such as a cash register or food preparation area.

Union wants problem customers banned

SDA national assistant secretary Julia Fox said the union wanted to see trespass laws reformed so businesses can ban problem customers.

Additionally, the SDA is calling for more education and training for co-workers.

If not, Ms Fox warns businesses are making themselves vulnerable to workplace injury claims and also reputational damage.

“We have dropped the ball and it’s time employers really focused on this issue,” she said.

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Sexual harassment is never okay

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says sexual harassment is never acceptable.

“Everybody has a right to a safe workplace, and therefore, no one should have to put up with sexual harassment in any form” he said. 

“It is particularly troubling to see so many young people experiencing this sort of unacceptable and unlawful conduct.”

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