Antecedents of Sexual Harassment by Customers: A New Approach

Open Access
Hepler, Sarah Faith
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Alicia Ann Grandey, Thesis Supervisor
  • William Ray, Honors Advisor
  • customer sexual harassment
  • customer power
  • display rules
  • service with a smile
  • customer is always right
Existing literature concerning sexual harassment has been incomplete in its consideration of employees’ experiences of harassment by third parties, such as customers or clients. Recent studies have demonstrated the need for an expansion of current research to include customers as perpetrators of harassment. The author investigates this unique form of harassment from a new approach, determining whether the service pressure climate an organization establishes in order to garner customer loyalty and profitability predicts sexually harassing behaviors from customers. The author similarly investigates whether customer sexual harassment is more likely due to the relative power imbalance between the customer and employee or other factors such as customer accountability or the mitigating presence of sexual harassment policies. The author concludes with a discussion of the importance of the current research findings. Limitations of the current study are presented as well as suggestions for future research and implications for human resource professionals.