This week the Chicago Tribune reported on an incident in which a 17-year-old girl employed in a sandwich restaurant in Palos Heights, IL was closing up the store for the evening at 9:00pm when she was abducted at knifepoint and sexually assaulted. She was the only employee on duty, and was left to close the store alone.
Diane Bush of The Young Worker Safety & Health Network, a group of professionals who advocate safety for teens in the workplace commented, “we’re concerned about having young people work alone at any time, but in particular late at night.”
Federal law restricts teen workers under 16 from working after 7:00pm (except until 9:00pm during the summer). However, there are no such laws for minor workers who are older than 18. The National Consumer’s League, which works with parents and teens to set appropriate work parameters, suggests that minors 16 years and older so not work before 7:00am or after 10:00pm.
While such guidelines would have not helped the Palos Heights teen, they are an important starting off point to consider in making laws stricter for minor workers. Perhaps the solution is restricted evening hours as well as regulations that do not permit teen employers to work alone and unsupervised by an adult in order to ensure their safety.