Friday, January 19, 2007

PRESS RELEASE: EEOC, safe workplaces for youth

Christine Nazer
(202) 663-4911
Ketchum PR
Michael Stern
312-228-6892 (office)
312-953-8834 (cell)
Chicago-area Companies Create Safer Workplaces for Youth
EEOC Seminar to Help Local Employers Prevent Harassment of Young Workers
CHICAGO – Jan. 17, 2007: On Monday, Jan. 22, Naomi Churchill Earp, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and area legal experts will meet with local employers at the Swissotel Chicago to discuss how to prevent discrimination and create safe workplaces for young employees.
Chair Earp is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at 9:15. The seminar, scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon, is one of many activities the EEOC conducts as part of its Youth@Work Initiative. The national outreach program, launched in 2004, is designed to both educate young people about their workplace rights and responsibilities, and help employers create positive first work experiences for young adults.
Part-time jobs during the school year and summer months have long attracted young adults to the labor force. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an estimated three million teens work after school. This number jumps to 7.1 million during the height of summer.
"Young people make up a significant portion of the nation’s workforce, particularly in the food and retail industries," said EEOC Chair Earp. "By empowering youth to understand their workplace rights and responsibilities, and partnering with employers to promote fair and inclusive workplaces, we can help young workers become productive adult citizens."
Monday’s seminar will focus specifically on how to identify and prevent potential employment problems involving young adults. According to attorney Andrew Goldberg, partner at Laner, Muchin, Dombrow, Becker, Levin and Tominberg, Ltd., maintaining a discrimination-free work environment is a business necessity.

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"For the employers accused of creating an unsafe workplace a lawsuit can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Goldberg. "For the employees affected by the situation, it can mean much more. Both employers and the young adults they hire need an education in workplace rights and responsibilities."
Youth@Work events have proven successful for employer audiences. To date, the EEOC has held more than 1,800 Youth@Work events nationwide, reaching more than 128,000 students, education professionals, and employers. The EEOC has also entered into groundbreaking Youth@Work partnerships with the National Retail Federation, the National Restaurant Association, and the National Education Association, as well as countless local partnerships with employer organizations, community groups, and educators.
One local company that has worked with the EEOC to create a safer workplace for its young employees is Heartland Foods Corp. The company, which is one of the largest franchisees of the BURGER KING® Restaurant chain, employs 1,877 young adults in the Chicagoland area. It conducts annual compliance training, has established an employee hotline number and has created in-store materials to promote a positive work environment.
"Working at our restaurants is often a young person’s first job," said Steven Wiborg, Chief Executive Officer of Heartland Foods Corp. "These are the people on the front lines working with our customers. We want to make sure that first experience is a positive one."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 21,762 eating and drinking establishments in the state of Illinois, which account for 8.6 percent of the state’s employment. Further information about how to create safe workplaces for young adults is available online at
About the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The EEOC is a federal agency responsible for enforcing the federal statutes which prohibit employment discrimination, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, or religion; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits job discrimination based on the existence or perception of a disability; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against persons age 40 and over; and the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which prohibits wage discrimination based on sex. The EEOC’s Chicago District Office, located at 500 W. Madison Street in Chicago, enforces the anti-discrimination laws in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at