Labor & Employment

Workers Exposed to Greater Risks of Sexual Harassment Get Paid More, Law Prof Says

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Women who work in jobs where they face greater risks of sexual harassment are generally paid more, according to a law and economics professor who studied Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints.

The professor, Joni Hersch, wrote about her findings in American Economic Review, the Washington Post reports. She found that on average, women in jobs with an average probability of sexual harassment are paid 25 cents an hour more than those in jobs with no risk of sex harassment. For men, the wage differential is 50 cents an hour.

Hersch adopted the same kind of methodology used to estimate boosts in pay associated with jobs where the risk is greater for death or injury. She found that women are more at risk of sex harassment in male-dominated industries such as mining. She estimates the pay differential for women miners at $2 an hour, the Post says.

Hersch explained the likely reason for her findings in an interview with the Post. Unhappy workers quit jobs, she says, and the only way to keep them is to pay more. “Sexual harassment is the kind of working condition that is so universally despised that people require some compensating differential,” she says.

Women in high sex-bias risk jobs would likely earn even more if there were no right to sue and other workplace protections, Hersch tells the Post.

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