A guide to youth workers' rights

Everyone works or knows someone who works, but how many of us know our rights in the workplace? Where can you go or who can you talk to if something happens at your job? It’s important that you

know your workers' rights to protect yourself and your friends!


What’s the minimum wage?

As of 2021, the federal minimum wage is

$ 5

but state minimum wages can vary. For example, Texas’ minimum wage is $7.25/hr, but in New York, it’s $15/hr.

However, in some states, it’s legal for employers to pay workers under the age of 20 $4.25/hr for the first 90 days after getting hired.

Whatever your wage is, know that hours worked should be hours paid!

Review your pay stub regularly. Make sure you keep a record of how many hours you’ve worked and calculate if they’ve paid you your hourly wage.

If your employer is making illegal deductions from your paycheck, that’s wage theft. Examples of illegal deductions include taking money out of your check because:

  • There’s cash missing from the register.
  • There’s damage on the property (either caused by you or during your shift).
  • Your employer miscalculated (either purposefully or accidentally) your wages/hours.

It's illegal to hire young workers for certain jobs.

Keep in mind that there are age restrictions for the types of jobs youth can get. Some examples of eligible workplaces under federal law include:

For information about specific jobs, visit WWW.YOUTHRULES.GOV


You have the right to a safe and healthy workplace!

What’s a safe workplace mean?

Employers are responsible for making sure that:

  • You aren’t being hired to do dangerous or hazardous jobs.
  • You are not exposed to dangerous chemicals
    or machinery.
  • Hazards in the workplace are found, reduced
    or removed.
  • You are given training and protective equipment.

For examples of dangerous or hazardous jobs for each age, visit www.YouthRules.gov.

You can also make sure that your work environment is safe for you and your coworkers by reporting hazards to your supervisor.If your employer refuses to reduce or eliminate hazards, you can anonymously contact OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA can inspect a workplace and make sure your employer are keeping you safe.

If you do end up reporting a hazard, either to OSHA or your supervisor, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you.


You have the right to a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment!

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is when an employer treats you unfairly or badly based on race, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older), or genetic information. 

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment happens when someone experiences unwanted sexual comments, content, or behavior in the workplace. It also includes behavior that is non-sexual, but based on gender.

Report an incident to a safe person, like a supervisor or someone in human resources. It is also illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting an incident.

If your employer does not offer a solution or help, you can file a formal complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).


Youth Rules

Department of Labor – Wage & Hour

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

If you do end up reporting a hazard, either to OSHA or your supervisor, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you.