Alcohol increases risk of sexual harassment at work

Every drink at lunch or during happy hour increases the risk of sexual harassment more than twofold: Cornell University study

Consuming alcohol during work hours greatly increases the odds of sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a study out of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

The study of 1,353 blue-collar and services workers, including 236 women, in the manufacturing, service and construction sectors found an extra glass of beer or wine at lunch put female workers at greater risk.

Every additional alcoholic drink increased the risk more than twofold. Researchers said this increased risk remained even when they controlled for a number of other factors such as the proportion of women in the workplace and other demographic characteristics.

“The survey’s findings have important implications for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Samuel Bacharach, director of the R. Brinkley Smithers Institute for Alcohol Related Workplaces Studies at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labour Relations. “They suggest that sexual harassment prevention policies may be less effective in work contexts characterized by a strong and permissive drinking culture. In such environments, it may be more useful to focus prevention efforts on changing employee perceptions about the acceptability of drinking during or around working hours.”

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