Sexual harassment in the healthcare industry continues to be a significant problem. Unfortunately, many in our culture sexualize nurses, and some interactions between nurses and patients can become predatory. When nurses and other medical professionals experience sexual harassment in the workplace, it creates an unsafe work environment.
At Heninger Garrison Davis, we believe that nobody should have to come to work worried about their safety. When employers refuse to stop sexual harassment or fail to take their employees’ safety seriously, they may violate federal law. If you have experienced sexual harassment as a nurse or other medical professional, please consider contacting our law firm today to discuss your case.
Many Nurses Have Experienced Sexual Harassment
A recent poll showed that 71% of nurses experienced harassment from a patient. In the poll, harassment was defined as stalking, physical harassment, inappropriate social media contact, and persistent communication attempts. Female nurses and doctors were more likely to state that they had experienced sexual harassment than their male counterparts. 73% of female nurses indicated that they had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace versus 46% of male nurses. Likewise, 58% of female doctors experienced sexual harassment versus 39% of male doctors.
Nurses are not the only group in the medical field to experience such high numbers of sexual harassment. 50% of respondents in the HCP group stated that they experience sexual harassment. This group included chiropractors, physical therapists, paramedics, and nutritionists. In addition to sexual harassment, many medical professionals reported that they had experienced non-sexual harassment, such as patients trying to contact them through social media in an inappropriate manner.
Physical Abuse and Harassment is Also Common in the Medical Field
An extremely high percentage of male nurses, 96%, and 84% of female nurses stated that they had experienced physical threat. One respondent said that even though he was 200 lb and 6’1”, a patient once threw him against the wall, cracking his rib. Another woman who had been practicing as a registered nurse for over 40 years reported being hit, kicked, and bit. She noted that patients have begun to become more verbally abusive toward workers in the medical field. In some cases, patients who are refused narcotics threaten to engage in physical violence. Indeed, several respondents noted that they believe the increase in physical threats and violent acts is due to increased drug dependency.
What are Your Legal Options After Experiencing Harassment in the Workplace?
Women and nursing are particularly vulnerable to experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. Many advocates against sexual harassment have noted that unreported sexual misconduct has gone on far too long in the nursing field. Not only do nurses experience a high level of sexual harassment from patients, but they can also experience sexual harassment from co-workers and managers. Sadly, many new nurses feel like they must learn to tolerate sexual harassment, including being groped in the workplace or having patients expose themselves.
Nurses do not have to continue to put up with sexual jokes, comments, and the appropriate questions, and sexual conduct from their co-workers, managers, or patients. They do have legal recourse and may have a right to claim compensation through an EEOC complaint or a lawsuit. Under federal law, sexual harassment is not allowed. Most healthcare clinics and hospitals must abide by the provisions of federal anti-discrimination laws. These laws prohibit harassment in the form of quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment.
Quid pro quo harassment involves an offer conditioned on a sexual favor or comment. Quid pro quo means this for that in Latin. In a quid pro quo sexual harassment scenario, a manager may tell a nurse that he will give her a promotion if she engages in sexual conduct with him. Conversely, the manager may say that should a nurse decline his offer, he will decrease her hourly rate of salary or assign her to a less favorable shift.
When sexual harassment rises to the level of creating a hostile work environment, the employer will violate federal anti-discrimination laws. Managers and co-workers can create a hostile work environment when unwelcome conduct or comments are so pervasive that it interferes with a nurse’s work performance. Hostile work environments can also happen when the workplace is hostile, intimidating, or offensive.
Contact an Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyer
If you have been the subject of sexual harassment as a nurse, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Heninger Garrison Davis today to schedule an initial consultation and learn about your rights.