Boss Demanded Sex from Teen Barista at Starbucks?
Teenagers are often encouraged to get part-time jobs, saying it will help them become responsible adults. But many times the teens come up against irresponsible adult supervisors who use their positions to demand sex from their young subordinates. It's a problem that is growing as more teenagers enter the workforce.
"It's an incredibly serious problem," Bill Cash of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission told the ABC News program "20/20."
"Employers that choose to use high school kids to work have a responsibility to protect these young people," Cash said. "We don't want them to be fondled, we don't want them to be raped."
The show tells the story of a Starbucks barista named Kati Moore, who claims her 24-year-old supervisor demanded sex from her shortly after she started working at the California store when she was just 16-years-old.
"I felt like I didn't have a choice," Moore, now 20, told ABC News." I was ashamed and embarrassed. And I felt like he had complete control over my job... he knew all this stuff about my family and my friends and my school."
She says the supervisor would summon her for sex in hundreds of text messages "It was an everyday, numerous times a day occurrence," Moore said. "And I just saw it and did what I had to do."
Moore says other Starbucks supervisors and managers knew what was happening but did nothing to stop the illicit relationship.
After the girl's mother learned of the relationship, she alerted prosecutors, who brought criminal charges against the Starbucks employee, Tim Horton. After claiming he did not know the barista was 16-years-old, Horton pleaded guilty to a felony charge of illegal sex with a minor and served four months in prison.
The family has sued Starbucks, claiming the company failed in its responsibility to protect the young woman from Horton.
In a statement, Starbucks said:
"These two employees concealed their relationship from Starbucks, which violated company policy. We are confident that the case will ultimately be resolved in finding that Starbucks is not at fault."
Starbucks says it does have a strict policy against sexual harassment and managers dating baristas, but there is nothing specific about relationships with teens under the age of 18.
The problem is also prevelent in fast food restaurants, which employ many teenagers.
"They make enormous profits based on the work of high school kids, and that's fine," said Cash. "That can be a great working relationship in many cases. But employers that choose to use high school kids to work have a responsibility to protect these young people."