Research Techniques in HRD & Technology

20 Page Literature Review – Human Resources Management

David Mark Davis II

The University of Texas at Tyler

Research Proposal

January 29, 2018


Research Techniques in HRD & Technology


Sexual harassment is any form of unwelcome conduct that has a tendency of creating an offensive and hostile work environment for the victims (Armstrong, Garrett, 2006). Third party sexual harassment usually involves harassment by a person who is not a member of the given organization. Examples include customers, contractors or even security guards working for a different security firm (Armstrong, Garrett, 2006). Sexual harassment claims by third parties are usually motivated by the fact that the third parties in question are not directly employed by the given organization. As a result, they feel like they can get away with these actions with a higher degree of ease. An example is a customer who harasses tellers or receptionists. This customer may feel like their business is highly valued and the company will not jeopardize the relationship it has with them for the sake of the receptionist in question.

Statement of the problem

The problem of this study shall be to investigate third party sexual harassment claims and the ease with which victims in such situations can get justice according to American law. There are a number of ways in which this problem can be investigated. The very first is to look at what the law says about third party sexual harassment. The law can be thoroughly deconstructed in order to get all the minute details about this form of harassment. The aim of this line of analysis is to gain a better perspective of what the law actually says.

The second avenue in which this problem can be evaluated is to look at it from the vintage point of the victims. For the purpose of this study the victims will be interns working for organizations. There is a lot of politics and logistics that goes into the relationship between businesses and their clients or strategic partners (McGowan, 1999). These relationships might limit the ability of businesses to take action against third party sexual harassment offenders. This avenue of study is very important and tends to look at the actual gist of the matter. It is centered on the actual victims and the manner in which the law is applied if they report a third party sexual harassment issue to their employer.

Another avenue is to look at the issue from the vintage point of the employer. Employers usually have a hard time monitoring their third-party partners. These third-party partners are not their employees. In some instances, they are on equal footing with these partners. Thus, employers have to be extremely bold and objective in the case of such claims. In an ideal situation employers would stand by their employees. They would be willing to lose a customer for the sake of safeguarding the honor of their employees. However, this is a romanticist point of view since many employers are profit centric. This means that most of them may be willing to lose an employee and not a customer who brings a lot of revenue their way.

Significance of the problem

Sexual harassment in the work place is a major issue. Recent trends have seen a lot of victims of sexual harassment coming out and finally getting some semblance of justice. However, third party sexual harassment is still an issue that has not received the mainstream attention it deserves. There are a number of employers who take little action to protect their employees from such forms of harassment. There are also instances where the victim winds up being blamed for reporting the issue in the first place (Keller, 2013). The current society is inclined towards keeping quiet on matters such as sexual harassment.

Third party sexual harassment places a lot of the burden of proof on the victims. Some victims may also be unsure how these claims will affect their relationship with their employer. In addition to the anguish of being harassed they also have to deal with the potential thought of their employer failing to take action or taking the side of the harasser at the expense of the employee (Keller, 2013). This adds to the pressure and stress that employees in such a situation are usually under.

There are some employers who place employees in certain positions as bait. An example is the receptionist position which is usually preserved for employees who look a certain way. Most of these employees are usually females who can be termed by societal standards as being attractive. When employers use their looks to place them in such positions they do so with the full knowledge that it will get clients to react in some type of way. In essence the employers are predisposing these employees to sexual harassment by third parties. The fact that this is a practice that is widely accepted in the professional world hints at how big the issue of third party sexual harassment actually is.

Research question

The study will look at third party sexual harassment cases where the victims were interns. The research shall be guided by the following research question:

What policies exist to promote an appropriate response by employers to third party sexual harassment claims by interns?

Interns have been selected as the primary focus of this study. Their selection is based on the fact that they are usually at the bottom of the pyramid in any organizational chain. Their position in the organization is not yet fully secured since some of them usually operate on a probational basis. They are usually a target for third party sexual harassers since they have a low rank in their respective organizations. The manner in which sexual harassment claims by interns are handled is reflective of how these claims will be handled throughout a given organization. This makes interns a prime demographic for this research.


There are several assumptions that will be made throughout this study. The very first is that every formal workplace has a sexual harassment policy. This is a policy that guides all concerned parties on matters of sexual harassment. It denotes what is construed as sexual harassment and the boundaries that none of the parties are allowed to cross (Gerdes, 1999). This is a reasonable assumption since modern law requires all formal work places to have such a policy in place.

It will be assumed that all interns are familiar with the sexual harassment policy at their place of employment. This assumption sticks to the notions that these interns are knowledgeable and that they have done their due diligence with regard to acquainting themselves with all the policies of their employment place. This assumption is supported by the fact that most work places usually have an orientation program. These programs usually involve interns being taken through multiple scenarios they may encounter and the manner in which they can react in these scenarios.

The third assumption is that the interns have access to the human resource department. Due to their low rank they may not have access to the top management. However, the human resource department is meant to look out for the welfare of all employees. This can especially be done if the employees have access to the department and its representatives (Levy, Paludi, 2002). This access should not be any different from the access that other employees have to the department.


Sexual harassment is a very sensitive topic. There is a lot of physical and psychological trauma that the victims usually endue. As a result getting them to participate in the research can be a bit difficult. This is especially taking into account the fact that their participation is on a voluntary basis. The research also has to be limited to a small number of respondents who will act as a representatives or the greater population. The spread of these respondents throughout the country will also be limited by financial constraints.


The research will involve a total of 500 interns selected by two stage simple random sampling from a number of companies in New York City. The first stage will involve the selection of twenty companies. These companies will be selected through simple random sampling. After this twenty five interns will be selected from each company through simple random sampling. This is a two stage design that will involve a random selection of companies and a random selection of interns from each company.

The two main data collection methods that will be used are interviews and questionnaires. Interviews are a good method to get first hand information from the respondents on their experience, if any, with third party sexual harassment. Questionnaires will also involve a number of structured questions that the respondents will be required to respond to. Examples of interview and questionnaire questions that will be presented to the respondents are:

· How often do you deal with sexist or ambiguous remarks in the work place?

· How often are these remarks or actions perpetrated by third parties?

· How do you feel about third parties perpetrating such actions against employees?

· Do you feel like you can comfortably approach your employer with such issues?

· If you have experienced such an issues did you approach your employer? If yes then what was their reaction? If no then why?

Once the data is collected it will be analyzed using two programming languages which are SPSS and Programming Language for Statistics R. The aim of the analysis will be to establish whether or not there is a correlation between employer action or inaction and third party sexual harassment claims in the work place. The perception of the interns on the matter will also be evaluated. This will involve computation of figures such as the percentage of interns who feel protected from sexual harassment from third parties by their employers and the percentage that does not.

Definition of terms

Sexual harassment: conduct that is unwelcome and can be termed as being intimidating and leads to the creation of a hostile work environment.

Third party: a person associated with an organization but is not a direct employee of the organization for example suppliers.

Third party sexual harassment: harassment committed by an outsider who is associated with the organization for one reason or another.

Intern: a student or a trainee working to gain experience or to satisfy some qualification requirements.

The following chapters will also be included in the study:






Armstrong, T., & Garrett, L. (2006). Sexual harassment: A commonsense approach : employee version. Mill Valley, CA: Kantola Productions.

Gerdes, L. I. (1999). Sexual harassment. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.

Keller, J. J. (2013). Sexual harassment: Training for supervisors & employees. Neenah, WI: J.J. Keller & Associates.

Levy, A., & Paludi, M. A. (2002). Workplace sexual harassment. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

McGowan, K. (1999). Sexual harassment. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books.

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