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The effects of harassment severity and organizational behavior on damage awards in a hostile work environment sexual harassment case
Version of Record online: 5 JUL 2009
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Special Issue: Current Directions
Volume 28, Issue 3, pages 303–321, May/June 2010
How to Cite
Cass, S. A., Levett, L. M. and Kovera, M. B. (2010), The effects of harassment severity and organizational behavior on damage awards in a hostile work environment sexual harassment case. Behav. Sci. Law, 28: 303–321. doi: 10.1002/bsl.886
- Issue online: 25 MAY 2010
- Version of Record online: 5 JUL 2009
- American Psychology–Law Society
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. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.