The Structure and Phenomenon of Sexual Harassment: Impact of Category of Sexually Harassing Behavior, Gender, and Hierarchical Level


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jasmine Tata, Organization and Management Department, Syracuse University, Suite 500-900 South Crouse Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13244-2130.


Several researchers (Fitzgerald & Hesson-Mclnnes, 1989; Padgitt & Padgitt, 1986; Till, 1980) have suggested that the construct of sexual harassment is multidimensional and consists of five categories of behavior: gender harassment, seductive behavior, sexual bribery, sexual coercion, and sexual assault. Unfortunately, these categories have not been considered in studies investigating the nature and correlates of perceptions of sexual harassment. This paper presents a study that examined the impact of three factors–categories of sexually harassing behavior, gender of subjects, and hierarchical level of the initiator relative to the recipient–on subjects’ perceptions of sexual harassment. The results indicated that gender and hierarchical level influenced the perceptions of two categories of sexual harassment–gender harassment and seductive behavior–but did not influence perceptions of sexual bribery, sexual coercion, and sexual assault. Implications for future research and organizational policies are discussed.