Study Says Observers are Critical of Passive Sexual Harassment Victims

A recent study indicates that victims of sexual harassment in the workplace may not always assert themselves and confront the harassment head-on. The study will be published in the next issue of Organization Science, and professors from Notre Dame University, Brigham Young University and Northwestern University contributed to research.

The study analyzed the infamous 1991 Senate hearings for Clarence Thomas and the allegations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill. Hill testified that that despite Thomas’ ongoing and continuous sexual harassment, she did not confront him about it. The study argues that this situation is not isolated and is part of a trend of victims not confronting their harassers. Some of the professors speculate that victims are either intimidated or fearful of potential scorn and backlash. Observers of these victims—and sometimes even juries—are critical of sexual harassment victims who do not take a stand, even though studies indicate those who are critical have not confronted instances of workplace intimidation against them in the past.

“If we can increase the accuracy of our predictions and realize we won’t stand up for ourselves as often as we would like to think, we will be less condemning of other victims,” says co-author Ann Tenbrunsel.

Hopefully this study will make people understand the difficulties faced by sexual harassment victims. Please contact our firm for a free consultation.

Kelsuk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles harassment lawyers

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