Human Resource Structures: Reducing Discrimination or Raising Rights Awareness?




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       The authors’ affiliations are, respectively, Department of Sociology, Cornell University, 323 Uris Hall, Ithaca, NY. E-mail:; Department of Sociology, Washington State University, Pullman WA. E-mail: Both authors contributed equally to this paper; names are ordered alphabetically. A version of this paper was presented at the 2006 American Sociological Association annual meetings, Montréal, Quebec. We wish to thank Bliss Cartwright and Ronald Edwards at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Office of Research for supplying supplemental data and statistical coding files and Amy Wharton, Mike Allen, the editor, and anonymous Industrial Relations reviewers for helpful comments.


Using data from 84 hospitals linked to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discrimination-charge data, we consider how four human resource (HR) structures affect hospitals’ receipt of discrimination charges. HR structures that establish accountability (affirmative action plans, EEO units) are marginally related to charges. Structures that moderate bias (management diversity training) reduce the odds of receiving a charge while structures that raise employees’ rights awareness (employee diversity training) increase the odds of receiving a charge. Structures relate differently to sexual harassment versus personnel charges.