Organizational Sexual Harassment Investigations: Observers' Perceptions of Fairness

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Description: Human resource practitioners have recently suggested that in order to enhance the acceptability of the results of an investigation into alleged sexual harassment, organizations should use investigators who are the same sex as the alleged victim and who are external to the organization. The validity of these prescriptions was tested in a 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 laboratory experiment. Results indicated that women viewed female investigators' treatment of victims as more fair and they were perceived to have rendered fairer decisions than their male counterparts. External investigators were perceived as less biased and more fair than internal investigators. Moreover, third-party observers held stronger beliefs that victims should pursue litigation against the organization when an internal investigator was used. Relationships among bias and fairness perceptions were, however, moderated by occupational gender context and by the decision itself. Finally, results indicated that perceptions of distributive justice mediated the relationship between the investigator's gender, outcome, occupational gender and observers' endorsement of litigation. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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