Job harrassment reality

Job harrassment reality

Nicole Gomez, Reporter

Flirting is something that is done all the time whether it’s done jokingly with overly batting eyelashes or outright with sly smiles and cheeky winks.

Humans flirt with everyone and anyone, a sharp tongued remark answered by a quick quip is seen as amusing.

Like Edith Wharton said in the novel, The Age of Innocence, “Ah, good conversation – there’s nothing like it, is there?”

Because flirting is essentially a conversation, it should be two sided. When it’s not it becomes a problem especially in situations where it can not be escaped such as work.

A survey conducted in 2008-2009 by The Oregonian asked 518 teens and found that about one in three teens experienced some type of sexual harassment.

Laura Gunderson, a reporter for the Oregonian, said in a recent article that those figures likely mask the real number. Adults rarely report sexual harassment in the workplace and teens are even less likely, Gunderson said.

Many teens have to face uncomfortable situations in their place of work and it’s not something they have control over. In fact most of the time teens feel like it’s part of their job to deal with this harassment.

“They encourage us to social interactions with the guests because they want us to form connections with them because regulars tip us more than people who don’t come in that much. They always tip us good. I feel like it’s just part of my job. Customers think that just because we’re behind the counter and are serving them they can do whatever they want or treat us however they want without getting in trouble,” explained Junior Jessica Rojas.

Complicated customers have always been a part of retail but customers who make employees feel uncomfortable have a greater part in teen’s work experience than one might think. “I’ve been working at a shoe store for seven months. I was helping this girl, she looked a little older than me. […]she asked for the price and then she asked for a discount. I told her we usually sent promo cards out and she’s said, ‘That’s not what I meant, how can I get a discount? I told her there was nothing I could do, but she insisted saying ‘I know there’s something I could do. There was nothing I could really do at that point. It just felt weird, so I tried branching out to a different customer. She left me alone, but then she came back. She kept asking. It was just awkward, you could tell what she was implying. The weirdest thing was that I found out I had that girl on Facebook, I didn’t know that until she messaged me asking me why I didn’t hook it up, I just blocked her,” junior Daniel Martinez recounted.

Another reason the majority of teens won’t report these situations is because they feel they’re making too much out of nothing. “Growing up as a girl it’s different, women are seen as sexual icons no matter what and as a man if there’s something wrong emotionally they’re told they should just suck it up. You’re not taken seriously because you’re seen as a force that shouldn’t be damaged emotionally. You’re seen as a fortress, you’re supposed to be strong, you’re supposed to be in control and then when you do feel harassed, they won’t take you seriously because of what’s expected,” said Martinez.

These situations tend to escalate quickly from a one-time thing to an everyday occurrence.

“There was this older guy, he would come in every single day just to see me. He’d always ask what day I was working. We would always talk and I’d try not to but he was always by the counter talking, watching me.  One day he left and he came back and basically said ‘I didn’t want to wait any longer I really want to get to know you more’ and asked me for my number. I had to make up an excuse telling him I had a boyfriend. He never came back again,” said Rojas.

Girls aren’t the only targets to this unwanted attention, “It’s not even just girls, there’s a lot of boys who get it a lot too. One of my coworkers has gotten literally stalked by a girl. This girl wil lcome when he’s not working and ask if he’s there and if he’s not there she’ll get all crazy and mad and one day he was there and she wouldn’t leave we were closing and she wouldn’t leave. People are just crazy it’s like they don’t get it,” said Junior Jocelyn Martinez.  

There are some positive outcomes to these experiences,”Every man even one with the aspects of a gentleman has crossed a line at one point. Whether it’s flirting or just trying to talk to a woman. It makes  you think about the fact that what you say or what you do really has consequences on how people feel,” said Martinez.

Even though workplace harassment is a common thing doesn’t mean it’s part of the job. If someone is uncomfortable at their place of work whether it’s an overly friendly customer or a touchy coworker they have to deal with it. offers a variety of tips for coping with harrassment. The first step is to say “No” clearly, the next step is to document the incident. File a complaint, no one can get fired for firing a complaint under law.