Sexual harassment occurs in every type of work environment. Physicians, medical students, nurses, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, and other medical personnel are not immune to improper conduct, hostile workplaces, and retaliation. One survey of female doctors at American academic medical facilities concluded 52 percent of respondents have experienced some type of sexual harassment. From sexually suggestive remarks in operating rooms to physical assaults in physician on-call rooms, women can be especially vulnerable to sexual harassment in the field of medicine.
When sexual harassment takes place in the medical field, it can present additional challenges as medical field workers often experience significant barriers in reporting inappropriate behavior. Some fear retaliation from superiors, including denial of promotion opportunities, scholarship experiences, fellowship appointments, and even demotion. When sexual harassment victims believe that reporting will have a negative effect on their career advancement, addressing the problem of sexual harassment becomes much more difficult.
Failing to Report Sexual Harassment
According to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) statistics, 94 percent of women fail to report sexual harassment in the workplace. Less than 20 percent of U.S. surgeons are female. For interns and nurses who have lower statuses than attending physicians and surgeons, the intimidation that accompanies sexually harassing behavior can make these workers particularly vulnerable to abuse. The long working hours and stressful nature of the medical profession can contribute to these hostile working environments.
As the MeToo Movement continues to gain momentum, the medical field is the latest industry to address how to handle the increasing amount of sexual harassment claims. Health industry organizations, including the American Medical Association, the Joint Commission, and other accreditation agencies have suggested strategies to improve the institutional policies currently in place to protect sexual harassment victims. Proactive steps medical institutions can take include the creation of anonymous reporting systems, the use of mentors to guide junior medical professionals through the sexual harassment reporting process, publication of clear no-tolerance sexual harassment guidelines, and offering live sexual harassment training.
Implementing Strict Policies
Many medical centers are implementing strict disciplinary policies to address sexual harassment claims. In addition to establishing internal review boards to examine and discipline sexual harassment offenders, many institutions have set up confidential 24-hour hotlines to make the reporting easier. Sexual harassment victims in the medical field have filed suit against their employers for wrongful termination after reporting sexual harassment resulting in large jury awards. An experienced sexual harassment lawyer can assist you in filing or defending claims of sexual harassment, hostile workplace, or retaliation in the workplace.
Cherry Hill Sexual Harassment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Handle All Matters of Employment Law
Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.