Harassment charges: who wins? – sexual harassment
Harassment Charges: Who Wins? Since 1981 the number of formal harassment complaints filed yearly in the United States has nearly doubled. But anyone contemplating the decision to file a sexual-harassment charge is probably wasting time unless they are sure they have a cut-and-dried case. According to a recent study, all but the strongest cases fail.
Management professors David Terpstra of the University of Idaho and Douglas Baker of Washington State University made a statistical survey of every sexual-harassment charge filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights for two years (94% by women). Only 31% had outcomes favorable to the plaintiff. Further examination showed that in most of the cases, the plantiffs had made serious charges–sexual assault, physical contact or threats of job loss.
Those who endured less-serious offenses, such as abusive language, whistles, continual date requests or sexual propositions, were less likely to win. However, if they built up their case by finding witnesses and formally notifying management of their intention to file a grievance, their odds increased.
“If they had just one of the three factors in their favor–witnesses, serious charges, management notice–their chances were significantly greater than 31%,” Terpstra says. “With all three factors, they had an excellent chance of winning their case.” Winning meant getting a promotion, a positive job change or receiving a cash settlement.
“Individuals considering filing formal sexual-harassment charges should carefully consider the strengths and weaknesses of their case,” Terpstra and Baker say. And they should make every attempt to strengthen their case before filing.
The researchers point out that management can protect itself and its employees by taking the initiative and developing formal sexual-harassment policies, including setting up in-house complaint and grievance procedures.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sussex Publishers, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group