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20/20 Reports on Teenage Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

February 1, 2010

A recent episode of the television news program 20/20 covered the alarming number of teenage sexual harassment lawsuits pending against fast food restaurants in the state of California. This news story is also related to our last blog, discussing the epidemic of students in high school who are reporting sexual harassment from supervisors and bosses, as reported by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The program discussed specific cases that are pending, focusing on a suit that was filed against Starbucks, by a teenage female barista from Orange County, California who complained of sexual harassment and being taken advantage of sexually by her 24-year old store manager.

According to ABC News, months after she began working as a barista at Starbucks, 16-year old Kati Moore was approached by her adult supervisor with nearly daily demands for sexual intercourse. Moore claimed that she was embarrassed and felt like the manager had control over her job, so she agreed to the relationship. After Moore's family discovered the relationship, they pressed criminal charges against the Starbucks manager, Tim Horton, who claimed he was unaware that Moore was 16, and pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor--a felony charge that lead to a four month sentence in prison.

Moore's family is suing Starbucks for failing to protect Moore from sexual harassment and discrimination. Starbucks stated that it does have a strict policy against sexual harassment and managers dating baristas, but no specific policy about relationships with teenagers who are under the age of 18. Starbucks also stated that because the relationship was concealed from Starbucks, it was a direct violation of company policy. The coffee company is confident that this lawsuit will be resolved with Starbucks not being at fault.

16-year-old Starbucks Barista Sues Over "Sex Demands" at Work, ABC News, January 22, 2010

Woman Sues Starbucks Over Underage Sex, The Orange County Register, January 25, 2010

EEOC: Industry Sued Most in Claims of Teen Harassment, Nation's Restaurant News, February 5, 2007

Related Web Resources:

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Youth at Work: Your Rights