American Sociological Association

Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and the Impact of Workplace Power

Research on workplace discrimination has tended to focus on a singular axis of inequality or a discrete type of closure, with much less attention to how positional and relational power within the employment context can bolster or mitigate vulnerability. In this article, the author draws on nearly 6,000 full-time workers from five waves of the General Social Survey (2002–2018) to analyze discrimination, sexual harassment, and the extent to which occupational status and vertical and horizontal workplace relations matter. Results demonstrate important and persistent race, gender, and age vulnerabilities, with positive vertical (i.e., supervisory) and horizontal (i.e., coworker) relations generally reducing the likelihood of discriminatory and sexually harassing encounters. Interaction modeling further reveals a heightened likelihood of both gender and age discrimination for those in higher status occupational positions but uniform vulnerabilities across the occupational hierarchy when it comes to women’s experiences of sexual harassment and minority encounters with racial discrimination.


Vincent J. Roscigno



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