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The effects of harassment severity and organizational behavior on damage awards in a hostile work environment sexual harassment case

The effects of harassment severity and organizational behavior on damage awards in a hostile work environment sexual harassment case

Behavioral Sciences & the Law 28(3): 303-321

Community members reporting for jury duty (N = 128) read a sexual harassment trial summary in which harassment severity and the organization's sexual harassment policy and response were manipulated. Jurors who read the severe harassment scenario were more likely to agree that the plaintiff had suffered and should be compensated for her suffering and that the organization should be punished than were jurors who read the mild harassment scenario. When the organization had and enforced a sexual harassment policy, jurors believed that the plaintiff had suffered little and the organization should not be punished compared with conditions in which the organization did not have an enforced sexual harassment policy. Harassment severity influenced jurors' compensatory awards, and organizational behavior influenced jurors' punitive awards. These results have implications for plaintiffs, who must decide whether to claim specific or garden-variety damages; organizations, which could create or modify sexual harassment policy to limit damages; and trial lawyers, who could tailor arguments to maximize or minimize awards.

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Accession: 056320823

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 19579260

DOI: 10.1002/bsl.886

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