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The Experiences of Bystanders of Workplace Ethnic Harassment


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to K. S. Douglas Low, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 210 Education Building, MC 708, 1310 South Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820. E-mail:


The present research examined the experiences of individuals who witnessed or knew about ethnic harassment of their coworkers. Through 3 studies, we found that knowledge of other people's harassment was differentiated from personal experiences as a target and was associated with deleterious occupational, health-related, and psychological consequences beyond those accounted for by direct harassment and affective disposition. Ethnicity and gender did not moderate these relationships. Knowledge of others' ethnic harassment can therefore be construed as bystander harassment. Results also indicated that bystander and direct harassment were relatively common occurrences. Both harassment types contributed to how ethnic conflict is experienced. The consequences of ethnic harassment are not restricted to ethnic minority employees. Rather, everyone is at risk from such behaviors.