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EEOC: Teens unaware of right to sue

Teen workers are poorly informed about their right to sue employers who harass or abuse them, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC pursued around 30 lawsuits against employers in 2004, up from seven cases three years ago.

While the numbers are up, awareness isn't, according to vice-chair Naomi Earp, "despite the fact that [teenagers] watch lot of television about law and order."

The EEOC held a press conference yesterday to highlight the problem, during which one litigant nearly broke down in tears.

Amanda Nichols, who alleges sexual harrassment at a Steak n Shake in St. Louis, related her experience of trying to get help from the company.

"I was told that my well-being was not in the best interests of my employer," Nichols said, choking up.

The EEOC and the National Restaurant Association recently formed a partnership to help alert employers and their workers about harrassment issues. Earp said the NRA was concerned about image and branding.

"They believe their industry isn't any more significant a discriminator against teenagers than any other industry," Earp said. "They want to make sure they're portrayed accurately."

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