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Social Hazards On The Job: Workplace Abuse, Sexual Harassment, And Racial Discrimination—A Study Of Black, Latino, And White Low-Income Women And Men Workers In The United States

Nancy Krieger, Pamela D. Waterman, Cathy Hartman, Lisa M. Bates, Anne M. Stoddard, Margaret M. Quinn, Glorian Sorensen, Elizabeth M. Barbeau

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This study documents the prevalence of workplace abuse, sexual harassment at work, and lifetime experiences of racial discrimination among the United for Health cohort of 1,202 predominantly black, Latino, and white women and men low-income union workers in the Greater Boston area. Overall, 85 percent of the cohort reported exposure to at least one of these three social hazards; exposure to all three reached 20 to 30 percent among black women and women and men in racial/ethnic groups other than white, black, or Latino. Workplace abuse in the past year, reported by slightly more than half the workers, was most frequently reported by the white men (69%). Sexual harassment at work in the past year was reported by 26 percent of the women and 22 percent of the men, with values of 20 percent or more in all racial/ethnic-gender groups other than Latinas and white men. High exposure to racial discrimination was reported by 37 percent of the workers of color, compared with 10 percent of the white workers, with black workers reporting the greatest exposure (44%). Together, these findings imply that the lived— and combined—experiences of class, race, and gender inequities and their attendant assaults on human dignity are highly germane to analyses of workers' health.