Young people stand up for respect in workplace

This is a story about my 16-year-old sister Amanda, a courageous young worker, an amazing sister, and the best friend I have ever had. This story is also about her struggle in her workplace with a management team, who because of the environment capitalism creates pushing some to climb the corporate ladder, lose their humanity in the process. This is a story about a young worker who said enough is enough, and her journey to bring justice to her workplace.

Amanda started working at Potbelly Sandwich Company in 2012. The first few months went fairly smoothly until one day when I picked her up from work she mentioned one of her managers had been requesting that she get down on her knees and scrub the floors, not a typical request. This was the beginning of a series of complaints that revealed serious workplace issues that young people, particularly younger women, are forced to face, including sexual harassment, favoritism and double standards. This store has a very difficult time keeping long-term employees because of such a work environment.

One associate, who was promoted to management, regularly had shown girls pictures of himself in women’s lingerie, including Amanda! Despite complaints to upper management, there has been nothing done.

Then Amanda began to notice little things between this individual and the general management that made it very apparent that there was an immense amount of preferential treatment, double standards with the dress code and a lot of micro managing. (In addition, there was a female manager’s inappropriate relations with a young male worker, who also received very preferential treatment.) There seemed to be a lot of this type of thing going on and not a lot being done about it.

Things began to get worse over time. Sexual harassment increased. Amanda came home one day, almost in tears, telling me she didn’t know what to do anymore and she could hardly stand being there because of the negative environment in the work place. At least seven people had quit, because of the current managements treatment, abuse, and bullying. My sister had reached the breaking point and reported it to upper management. She had to do this step repeatedly. Finally she reached someone who assured her that he was going to immediately begin conducting a full investigation. He told her to be certain to contact him if there was any retaliation against her. We will see what happens.

I wanted to share this story because I feel like a lot of people are scared to lose their jobs and tolerate things that they should never have to deal with. I want people to know that there are young people who are waking up, and taking a stand for respect in the workplace. I am so proud of my courageous sister and all the other young people out there that are taking a stand. I know that at her age, I was way too scared to oppose the management at my job, because I was afraid to lose my job, so I put up with a lot in order to maintain my position. I am so proud of our young workers who are fighting back!

The U.S. labor movement and Working America invite you to fix your job! And they are there to help! Watch Working America’s “The Office Battle” and learn the moves.

Photo: Many younger workers are employed at fast food establishments like this Potbelly at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport pictured here. (brewbooks/Flickr/CC)