How Pervasive Is Sexual Harassment of Health Care Workers?

According to a report that appears on, more than half of female nurses, doctors, and students report being the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. Male health care workers are affected by inappropriate behavior as well, though to a lesser degree.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment is unwelcome attention or behavior that targets someone on the basis of their gender or that inhibits them from doing their job. The conduct may include making sexual advances or subjecting someone to non-consensual physical contact as well as making comments or jokes that are sexually explicit or similarly inappropriate.

There are two types of sexual harassment: those that involve a quid pro quo and those that cause a hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves rewards or threats that are based on a this-for-that arrangement, such as a promotion promised in exchange for a sexual favor or the threat of job loss for not enduring sexually charged attention.

Sexual harassment causes a hostile work environment when the distressing behavior is so pervasive and severe that it keeps the employee from performing their job. This can happen when someone believes that the offensive conduct or subject matter affects their ability to work, even if they are not the intended target. This can include crude jokes, inappropriate pictures, or other materials of a sexual nature.

What Makes Sexual Harassment So Pervasive in Health Care Environments?

In many hospitals, the power dynamic between doctors and nurses or health aides allows for certain objectionable behaviors to fester. Also, patients are often the source of sexual harassing conduct. Nurses, who frequently endure all types of verbal abuse and physical threats, are often subjected to patients flashing them, calling them offensive names, or groping them. Often these patients are dealing with mental or substance abuse issues that influence their behavior, but it can still be distressing for the person targeted.

How Can Health Care Institutions Address Concerns of Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Hospitals and other health care institutions should have a policy in place to address claims of sexual harassment that includes a procedure for reporting specific incidents or problematic behavior.

Employers should offer training on being sensitive to sexual harassment and encourage reporting of offensive behavior to create a clear message that such behavior will not be tolerated.

If a problem does arise, employees should be able to take their complaints to someone in the human resources department or a similar company administration representative. The person or team tasked with taking the report should thoroughly investigate the complaint.

The employer should take steps to address the issue and remedy the situation. This starts by taking complaints seriously and holding offenders accountable. Employers must also ensure that the individual reporting the complaint should not suffer any form of retaliation.

South Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, Represent Health Care Workers Subjected to Workplace Sexual Harassment

If you are a health care worker who has endured sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be entitled to damages from your employer if you can prove that they knew about the abuse and did nothing to address it. The South Jersey sexual harassment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, have extensive experience helping employees hold their employers responsible for inappropriate on-the-job treatment. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.