How Independent Contractors Respond to Sexual Harassment: The Case of the Modeling Industry

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Abstract

Sexual harassment continues to be a problem that most commonly affects women in the United States workforce today. While there are legal and organizational remedies available, most of these mechanisms for redress only exist for workers in traditional employer-employee contexts. Independent contractors, self-employed workers who represent a growing number of labor force participants in this economy, can therefore only use informal means of addressing sexual harassment. This study used grounded theory methods to analyze 88 separate narratives of sexual harassment from 70 fashion models, an overwhelmingly female set of independent contractors currently operating in the American economy. The aim of the analysis was to understand the mix and meaning behind the use of informal strategies—more specifically confrontation versus non-confrontation—in response to this sexual harassment. Notably, models most often confronted the perpetrators of harassment. Critically, however, those models who chose non-confrontation did not minimize the abuse that they faced. Instead, they either saw themselves as powerless or engaged in self-blame when faced with harassment on the job.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-79
Number of pages23
JournalEmployee Responsibilities and Rights Journal
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Keywords

  • Confrontation
  • Fashion industry
  • Independent contractors
  • Models
  • Sexual harassment

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