Sexual harassment has long been studied as a gendered form of discrimination and a way to assert social dominance. Women working in customer service positions regularly cope with customer sexual harassment (CSH). This paper reports two studies that examine retaliation toward the customer as a way for service workers to both assert power and to cope when faced with CSH. The first study predicted that retaliation would share a common superordinate factor structure with four traditional coping strategies (i.e., social, advocacy seeking, avoidance, and negotiation). The second study hypothesized a latent variable model in which retaliation serves as a buffer between CSH and posttraumatic stress. Additionally, customer power was hypothesized as an antecedent to CSH and retaliation. Both studies used samples of women undergraduate students who were employed at least 10 hours per week as customer service workers in the southeastern U.S. The first study (N = 194) found support for the hypothesized factor structure; retaliation was related to, but distinguishable from more traditional styles of sexual harassment coping. The second study (N = 210) found support for the proposed mediational model. Limitations and future directions for research are discussed.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 25, 2014
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