Dateline: September, 2007, Issue 3

How does litigants' gender affect jury verdicts in sexual harassment cases?

Sexual harassment knows no gender. Men can harass women or other men, and women can also harass men or other women.

Wayne and colleagues (2001) explored how jurors perceive cross-sex and same-sex harassment for both males and females accused of harassment. Over 400 jurors made decisions in a hostile work environment case. Each juror was given one of four variations of this case. Two variations alleged cross-sex harassment (male on female, or female on male), while the other two variations alleged same-sex harassment (male on male, female on female).

The researchers report three important conclusions:

The gender of litigants and jurors affects verdicts in sexual harassment cases.

Source Wayne, J. H., Riordan, C. M. & Thomas, K. M. (2001). Is all sexual harassment the same? Mock jurors decisions in same- and cross-gender cases. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, pp. 179-187.