Sexual Harassment: Evaluating Organizational Responsibility Attributions and Organizational Responses to Minimize Liablity
Abbott, Jeanna L 1962-
MetadataShow full item record
Sexual harassment in the workplace remains a serious problem for organizations despite numerous federal and state laws that have been enacted to combat its existence. An allegation of sexual harassment and legal claims stemming from those allegations can be devastating for the victim, for the transgressor, and for the organization in which the harassment has been purported. This dissertation has three papers addressing this important topic. The first paper, “Apologies: Their Psychological Bases.” explores how victims perceive their employer’s responses to sexual harassment claims. Specifically, it explores whether an apology by the organization is even a plausible solution considering that it may be deemed an admission of liability, and assuming that the apology is protected by law: does the apology accomplish its underlying goal of reducing the negative effects of a sexual harassment claim? The second paper, “States’ Apology Laws: A Summary,” summarizes states’ apology laws, provides an overview of apology effectiveness, and discusses directions for future research on the use of an apology as an organizationally-relevant conflict resolution strategy. In the first two papers, apologies are posited to be effective tools in combating the negative consequences of sexual harassment claims. In the third paper, one of many important empirical issues is addressed to further consolidate our understanding of how and when to use apologies as effective conflict-resolution mechanisms. Paper three poses the question of what role attributed responsibility for harassment plays in alleged victims’ reactions to the transgression. I answer this question through an empirical study using an experimental design. Paper three suggests that victims are more likely to engage in legal claiming behavior when they attribute responsibility to the organization versus the alleged transgressor.