Confronting Toxicity in the Workplace

Sierra Yost, Photo Editor

You walk into the local fast food joint and slide the cashier your application. This is a big moment– the day that you become a working individual. It comes with a new kind of confidence and feeling of maturity. At sixteen years old, eight dollars an hour sounds like a pretty good offer.

Most, if not all, minimum wage jobs come with setbacks– the customers aren’t ideal, the staff fails to work as a team, the amount of pay doesn’t compensate for the amount of work required, or the hours aren’t flexible. While this can be expected, it is difficult for some to recognize the difference between a normal work atmosphere and a toxic work atmosphere.

“I think a comfortable work environment is accepting coworkers, understanding bosses, and a team bond,” said senior Ky Thornley. Comfortability is imperative in the workplace. If a person isn’t comfortable with their coworkers or the tasks that they are being asked to complete, how can they be productive and reach their full potential?

According to, ensuring that employees are comfortable in their work environment improves productivity and allows them to work to the best of their abilities. Discomfort is a distraction and slows down work processes.

So then, when should the line be drawn? Pay attention to the way management or superiors interact with their employees. As a person in authority, it is their job to make sure that the work is being completed as a team and that equal standards are set for everyone. Adults may be promoted faster than teenagers due to their level of work experience, however, this does not make them more or less worthy of respect.

“So in terms of respect, I personally believe it’s something that is earned through actions regardless of age,” said Zack Sylvester, former student at Taylorsville High School.

High school students are sometimes looked down upon as being less responsible and are often used by people who think that they don’t know better. This a form of discrimination and should raise major red flags. There is no room for discrimination in a place of work.

Likewise, the only way a company will thrive is if management listens to comments made by their staff and accepts criticism. If their door remains closed to any improvements, this is another red flag.

“I would not feel comfortable talking to management because my management is the center director, who is always busy and won’t always call you up for your appointment,” said senior Jade Sepulveda. “Whenever I have gone to management, the tables tended to be switched.”

The third and last thing to note is whether or not management follows through with their promises. If they promise an employee that they will give them a specific week off, and then that week rolls around and they deny that they ever said that, then there is a problem with their integrity and they will most likely continue this pattern of dishonesty.

It is crucial to know what these red flags are early on so that it easier to walk away from a toxic work situation. High school students need to be aware of their worth before they kick start their professional careers.