Sexual harassment: Employee reactions and organizational consequences

Vicki Jean Harder, Marquette University


The subject of sexual harassment has received a great deal of media attention ever since Professor Anita Hill appeared at the Senate Hearings in the fall of 1991. Since that time, a debate has taken place over what behaviors constitute sexual harassment. This study was completed in a large midwestern corporation with a sample exceeding 1300 subjects. It focused on the perceptions that people have of various types of sexually harassing behavior, reactions they predict they would have to those behaviors and the consequences that subjects have experienced as a result of real harassment situations. While many organizations have been motivated to establish policies in order to prevent lawsuits, not enough attention has been given to the physical and psychological consequences to those people who have experienced harassment and the negative effects those consequences have on the organization itself. This research was intended to illustrate how the effects of sexual harassment have a direct impact on the profitability of organizations due to the high costs of turnover, absenteeism and decreases in productivity. The results of this study may help organizations realize that it is in their best interest, both practically and ethically, to spend the resources necessary to prevent sexual harassment and deal promptly, fairly and sensitively with reports of this type of behavior.

Recommended Citation

Harder, Vicki Jean, "Sexual harassment: Employee reactions and organizational consequences" (1994). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9433778.