HKS Authors

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Workplace sexual harassment and violence inflict a variety of costs on survivors, raising important questions about prevention: changing the conditions that give rise to the problem in the first place. So long as sexual harassment and violence persist, mitigating their impacts and creating clear channels for recourse will also remain crucial, shaping the wellbeing and agency of survivors in navigating a way forward. Drawing on data from a national survey of retail and food service workers conducted as part of the Shift Project, the current study traces some key impacts of workplace sexual harassment and how they are moderated by perceptions of supervisory fairness and coworker support. We find that worker experiences of sexual harassment in the current job reduce job satisfaction and increase turnover intention, while experiences of harassment in both current and past jobs reduce sleep quality and increase psychological distress. Worker perceptions of greater supervisory fairness mitigate the impact of sexual harassment on turnover intention, sleep quality, and psychological distress, and perceptions of greater coworker support mitigate the impact of sexual harassment on turnover intention and job satisfaction. These results indicate that the orientation and behaviors of supervisors and coworkers can play a meaningful role in enabling survivors to navigate the trauma of sexual harassment and violence, helping to reduce negative consequences for people’s wellbeing and career trajectories.


Pinto, Sanjay, Phoebe Strom, Daniel Schneider, and Kristen Harknett. "Mitigating the Impacts of Sexual Harassment: Evidence from a National Survey of Retail and Restaurant Workers." Shift Project Research Brief, July 2023.