A significant percentage of female orthopedic surgeons said they had experienced sexual harassment during their residency training, according to a study conducted by the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society. The study consisted of an anonymous 12-question survey administered to 250 members of the society. Sixty-eight percent of those who responded reported being sexually harassed during residency. Employers in Delaware have a legal obligation to provide employees with a safe environment within which to work; sexual harassment may give rise to claims for damages.
The most commonly reported types of harassment revealed by the study were obscene images, unwanted physical contact and undesired sexual invitations. Among respondents who said they had been harassed, 71% said the perpetrators were male attending surgeons, 71% said the perpetrators were male residents and 43% said the perpetrators were patients. The study found no differences in the percentage of respondents who reported harassment among current or previous orthopedic trainees.
Many of those who said they’d been harassed did not report the incident, with only 15% of those who said they were harassed also saying that they reported the harassment to law enforcement or a company superior. The authors of the study suggested that harassment in residency programs may be combatted at its source by increasing how many women have leadership roles and by promoting mentorship programs.
If you’ve experienced harassment in the workplace, a lawyer who handles sexual harassment cases may be able to help by examining the facts of the situation and identifying parties who may have liability. Depending on the nature of the case, the person may have claims for money damages or other relief. A lawyer may be able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement or draft and file a complaint for relief in civil court.